Seed World

The Philippines Can Meet Nutritional Requirements with GM Crops, Nutritionist Says

In a March 7 press briefing, Monsanto’s Milton Stokes, director for global health and nutrition outreach, said GM crops can help the Philippines meet its nutritional requirements and are just as safe and nutritional as conventional crops. In the Philippines, debate is ongoing on the safety and impact of GM crops.

“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,” Milton said, adding that GMO crops have been researched for more than 30 years and more than 1,000 studies, all of which indicate that GMO crops are just as safe as those developed through traditional breeding. “GM crops are also the most studied crops which explains its record of safety,” said Stokes. “On the average, a GMO crop takes 13 years and $130 million of research and development before it gets into the market.”

According to Stokes, GM crops are now planted in 70 countries with more than 3.95 billion acres of land used for GM planting since 1996. Stokes shared that more than 90 government bodies globally review and approve GMOs.

Stokes was in Manila to engage with dietitians and other professionals on topics pertaining to food, agriculture and nutrition. Before joining Monsanto, 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.

Stokes earned his 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.