Dixie Forum to host presentation on scientific advancements in agriculture

By Jyl Hall

Dixie State University’s weekly lecture series Dixie Forum: A Window on the World will host a presentation on how genetically modified organisms are created, regulated and help farmers grow more while conserving natural resources.

This installment of Dixie Forum will feature two officials from the agricultural company Monsanto, which helps large and small farm operations grow food more sustainably. Kicking off the lecture, Dr. S. Eliza Dunn (Halcomb), Monsanto’s medical science and outreach lead, will present “Food for Thought: How GMOS are Made and Regulated.” Following Dunn’s lecture, Dr. Greg Watson, the company’s global crop protection policy lead, will offer “Brief History of Monsanto and dsRNA-based Projects as Innovation.”

The lecture is set to take place from noon to 12:50 on Jan. 23 in the Dunford Auditorium, located in the Browning Resource Center on the Dixie State campus. Admission is free, and the public is encouraged to attend.

As global trends reshape agriculture and create an urgency for continued innovation, Monsanto is developing solutions such as double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-based projects that employ a naturally occurring mechanism to improve crops and manage important agricultural pests. Monsanto has been collaborating with external scientific experts to help guide these development projects, following the initial 1998 discovery of the dsRNA-based RNA interference (RNAi) mechanism that led to awarding a Nobel Prize to discovering research team in 2006.

Dunn is a practicing emergency medicine physician and medical toxicologist with a long-standing interest in global health. She organized a relief mission to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, started the scholar track in global health for the Washington University Division of Emergency Medicine, and is one of the global health scholars for the Department of Internal Medicine. She also is a faculty member at Washington University, where she taught a course that compared the medical system in the U.S. with the medical system in China.

Watson has spent his career working on the development and regulation of crop protection tools, working with the North American Free Trade Agreement, the European Union and global regulatory affairs. Watson also has been active in the founding of two industry-wide task forces and served as chair of the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act Implementation team and several committees within Crop Life America. Additionally, he has been selected by the Environmental Protection Agency to serve on two Federal Advisory Committee Act work groups. Watson has a bachelor’s degree in biology and master’s and doctoral degrees in plant pathology.

Dixie Forum is a weekly lecture series designed to introduce the St. George and Dixie State communities to diverse ideas and personalities while widening their worldviews via a 50-minute presentation. Dixie Forum will be on recess for a week and then return on Feb. 6 with a presentation by Brent Harris from primalpathways.org. His lecture, “Signs of Life on the African Plains: Ecology, Conservation, and Sustainability,” will take place at noon in the Dunford Auditorium.

For more information about Dixie State University’s Dixie Forum series, contact DSU Forum Coordinator John Burns at 435-879-4712 or burns@dixie.edu or visit humanities.dixie.edu/the-dixie-forum.