Monsanto’s Director for Global Health and Nutrition Outreach, Dr. Milton Stokes said GM crops can help the Philippines meet its nutritional requirements.
In a press briefing on March 7 at Sulo Hotel, Dr. Stokes said “crops like Golden Rice with beta-carotene biosynthesis genes to combat Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) can help prevent 1-2 million deaths and 500,000 cases of irreversible blindness annually.”
Meantime, Dr. Stokes emphasized that “GMOs are as safe and as nutritious as conventional crops. ”It has been 30 years since GMO crops have been researched and developed with more than 1000 studies which all indicate that GMO crops are just as safe as those developed through traditional breeding,” said Stokes. GM crops are now planted in 70 countries with more than 3.95 billion acres of land used for GM planting since 1996.
In the Philippines, debate is ongoing on the safety and impact of GM crops. Dr. Stokes shared that more than 90 government bodies globally review and approve GMOs. Moreover, there are countries such as the Philippines where multiple agencies are involved in GM regulation.
“GM crops are also the most studied crops which explains its record of safety,” said Dr. Stokes. “On the average, a GMO crop takes 13 years and USD 130 M of research and development before it gets into the market.”
Dr. Stokes is in Manila to engage with dietitians and other professionals on topics pertaining to food, agriculture, and nutrition. Before coming to Monsanto, Dr. Stokes had a tenure-track professorship in nutrition and directed a dietetic internship at the University of Saint Joseph in Connecticut. He also owned a private nutrition counseling practice with multiple offices throughout Connecticut and is a former restaurateur. His restaurant, co-owned with his mom, Ann, featured traditional food from the Southern region of the United States.
Dr. Stokes has a master’s degree is in Public Health from Hunter College and his clinical training was conducted at Yale-New Haven Hospital affiliated with Yale University School of Medicine. His doctoral degree, from the University of Connecticut, is in Communication and Marketing with a specialization in Health Communication. (MonPhil/TN)