This article was first published on The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.
The genetic modification of plants and crops is still a red flag for many consumer groups and legislators, but GMOs are slowly making their way into the food and farming ecosystem. Eventually, supporters say, GMOs will become a vital tool to ensure that the world has enough to eat.
Israel’s Evogene is one company that is applying GMO technology to improve crop quality and productivity. Through its PointHit platform, the biotech firm is using big data to analyze molecules in weeds and identify key plant macro-molecules responsible for essential biological processes in weeds. By targeting those processes, Evogene — or the companies that license its platform — will be able to develop herbicides that will be more effective in killing weeds.
The cutting-edge technology has caught the eye of Monsanto — a multinational that has done more than any other to commercialize genetic modification — which is now a major investor in Evogene.
Critics point to numerous studies that they claim provide evidence that genetically modified crops are damaging, with some scientists claiming that the few studies that have been conducted show clearly that many of the benefits of GMO touted by its supporters have not come to fruition, and that in fact GMO has its own set of major problems.
Other scientists disagree, claiming that the studies opponents cite are inconclusive.
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