Published: April 2, 2018 By


Pamela Ronald will speak at the 2018 Conference on World Affairs as part of the Feeding the Future theme.

Pamela Ronald has been working to make strides in plant genetics, food security and sustainable agriculture. Ronald and her colleagues received the 2008 USDA National Research Initiative Discovery Award for creating a strain of rice that is more resistant to disease and tolerant to flooding, helping small farmers in Asia and Africa have a more secure crop.

This year at the Conference on World Affairs, we will be welcoming both Ronald and her husband, Raoul Adamchak, to participate in panels about “Feeding the Future”. 

What are you hopeful for and what are you worried about in the industry of plant genetics?

I am hopeful that we will be able to advance sustainable agriculture globally in order to help feed the growing population. Modern techniques provide a lot more tools that we have to work with to help address today’s issues in food. I am worried about the climate in the United States, and globally, in which people tend to discard scientific evidence if it doesn’t match their beliefs. That’s something that could impede scientific development around plant genetics. 

What is your advice to help advance the conversations between people with different opinions on genetically engineering plants and organic agriculture?

Globally, people will need to form a respect for institutions and the scientists who are making great discoveries. On a personal level, it helps to bring down the conversation with specific examples. Often in arguments around organic agriculture and genetic engineering, people aren’t even arguing about the same thing. You can’t advance the discussion that way. GMOs mean something different to each person, so it helps talk about individual crops and specific situations. Sometimes there are several ways to approach a particular problem when it comes to growing food, and sometimes not. Genetics can be the most appropriate way to solve a problem. 

As a first time CWA attendee, is there anything you’re particularly looking forward to while at the Conference?

It looks like I will get to take part in a lot of great talks. I’m really looking forward to getting to know the students and sharing in all of the festivities.