As you pack in another mouthful of mashed potatoes next Thursday on Thanksgiving, consider the thousands of years of domestication that turned the wild potato and other staple crops such as corn into a tasty traditional meal. Thanks to the genetic revolution, we now know more than ever before about the evolution of our favorite foods, and we have the power to shape their future by introducing genes that increase resistance against disease, drought, and pests.
However, many worry that these advances could also result in risks to our health and the environment—concerns that surfaced again in the fight over Proposition 37, the defeated California initiative that would have required all genetically modified foods to be labeled, and in a controversial French study suggesting that GM corn causes tumors in rats. How should scientists address these fears? What will the explosion in genome sequencing reveal about the history of our favorite crops? How will the foods of the future differ from those of the past? And how will the controversy about GM foods play out over the next decade?
Join us for a live chat at 3 p.m. EST on Thursday, 15 November, on this page to discuss genetically modified foods. You can leave your questions in the comment box below before the chat starts. The full text of the chat will be archived on this page.
Dr. Hans-Jörg Jacobsen heads the Institute for Plant Genetics of Leibniz University Hannover. He specializes in gene transfer, selection and molecular analysis of transgenic plants, transgenic pathogen resistance, micropropagation and tissue culture techniques.
Dr. Jordi Garcia-Mas is researcher at IRTA and Head of the Plant Genetics Department at the Center for Research and Agricultural Genomics in Barcelona, Spain. A plant genomics expert, his research focuses on the melon genome and the generation of genomic tools that can be used for breeding disease resistance and fruit quality in this species.
Dr. William Hallman, directs the Food Policy Institute at Rutgers University. An expert in risk perception and risk communication, his research explores food safety, food security, and public perceptions of controversial issues concerning food, health, and the environment.