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From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report.
Three scientists are sharing this year’s World Food Prize for their research that made genetically modified crops possible. Robert Fraley, Mary Dell Chilton and Marc van Montagu received the $250,000 prize on October 17 in the American state of Iowa. The World Food Prize organization praised the technology that the scientists created, saying it increased food crops. The group also praised genetically modified crops as a way to deal with a growing world population and climate extremes. Genetic engineering can do things such as adding proteins that kill insects that damage plants. But some countries ban bioengineered plants and seeds. Groups that question the safety of genetically modified organisms have criticized the selection of the three scientists. They say possible effects of GMOs on humans and the environment are not yet known. Plant biotechnology began in the 1970s when Belgian scientist Marc van Montagu discovered bacteria performing a kind of natural genetic engineering in soil. The bacteria placed a piece of their own genetic material, or DNA, inside the plant cells. The cells then produced chemicals that were good for the bacteria. Americans Mary Dell Chilton and Rob Fraley each built on the findings to produce the first genetically modified plants. Today nearly all corn and cotton grown in the United States is genetically modified. Doug Gurian-Sherman is with the Union of Concerned Scientists. He says bioengineering could be useful, but he also says there is no evidence that it is needed to feed the world.