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Monsanto and Syngenta Complain About the Growing Strength of the Anti-GMO Movement

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

DES MOINES, Iowa - Drs. Mary-Dell Chilton, Robert Fraley and Mark Van Montagu were in Des Moines to be honored as the recipients of the 2013 World Food Prize.

The work that the three have done with plant biotechnology has led to the development of genetically-enhanced crops that now provide food, feed and fuel for billions of people around the world.

But what their industry needs to do better is not in the field of science, but in the field of communication, the three said at a press conference.

"It is absolutely important we have a dialogue and an understanding and a trust with folks around the world so that the technology can have the impact that we so much need from it," said Fraley, chief technology officer at Monsanto.

Monsanto has taken the lion's share of the criticism for the development and implementation of genetically modified crops. Fraley noted that he regards the fact that Monsanto is regularly targeted by anti-agriculture activists as an indication of success.

"I'm willing to share, Mary-Dell," joked Fraley to Chilton, founder and Distinguished Fellow of Syngenta Biotechnology, when asked why he thought Monsanto received the largest share of criticism. "Sometimes that's frustrating. I always assume that means we've been really successful and people see us as a leader. That's OK. I think that's part of the responsibility that goes with it."

Chilton said she didn't have an answer as to why one company is targeted over others, but did point out that the industry needs to reach out more to consumers.

"I think we need to have good communications with the public on the safety of what we make," she said.

Fraley agreed, noting that while the seed industry has focused on getting new biotechnology out to farmers, it has not focused on talking to the consuming public about the safety of those products.