Professor Paarlberg an Authority on Food and Agricultural Policy

August 20, 2012

A Reuters story explores issues behind a current ballot initiative in California, which would require labeling of products that contain genetically modified ingredients, or GMOs (for genetically modified organisms). These are plants whose DNA has been changed by scientists, usually for purposes such as increased yield or resistance to pests.

Robert Paarlberg, the Betty Freyhof Johnson ’44 Professor of Political Science, interviewed for the story, said, "Ballot measures are the only way to get something like this into law in the United States." Big growers, such as Monsanto, and big producers, such as Kellogg, are opposed to the initiative, but voters will make the call in California. GMOs are found in countless foods as staples such as corn, soybeans, and canola grown in this country frequently come from GMO strains. According to the story, a "yes" vote from the the country's most populous state could seriously rattle the U.S. food business if it led large-scale food makers to drop GMO ingredients.

In 2010, Paarlberg published Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know, and in 2008 Starved for Science: How Biotechnology Is Being Kept Out of Africa. He has also worked with the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and is a frequent advisor and keynote speaker on topics of agriculture in developing countries, the macroeconomics of food, and policy issues regarding agriculture and food. A recent op-ed called No Need to Panic About Corn appeared in China Daily regarding drought damage to the U.S. corn crop and international trade.

Expert to hear more from Paarlberg as the California vote nears and the harvest comes in.