To celebrate March, National Nutrition Month, Monsanto Puerto Rico organized a series of activities to educate the public about what we do in the Island and to reaffirm our commitment to good nutrition. The activities served as a stage to initiate a conversation with Puerto Ricans about where food comes from and why genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are a part of it.
One landmark effort was Monsanto Caribe’s first time participation in the Annual Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Puerto Rico Affiliate (PRAND) Congress. This event took place on March 11-13 at La Concha Renaissance Resort. Monsanto participated with a keynote from Ana María Heilman, Monsanto Latin America North (LAN) and Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) Project Corn Data & Marker Manager for Monsanto during the Biotechnology panel on March 11. During the entire event, we had an exhibition and information area to foster conversations between attendants and Monsanto representatives, and we had the participation of Milton Stokes, Director of Global Health & Nutrition Outreach for Monsanto.Milton’s visit to Puerto Rico was very productive. We had the opportunity to have him at the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico to speak to undergraduate and graduate students and faculty of the Biotechnology and Agro-biotechnology Research and Education Center (CEIBA, for its acronym in Spanish). Milton’s presentation, “Maximizing Nutrition with Modern Agriculture” sparked much interest among the audience. During her visit to Puerto Rico for the PRAND Congress, Ana María she also was invited to another keynote event at the Biology Department of the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus. This is Ana María’s alma mater. Students and professors participated in this event.
Heilman explained to the audience that the Earth’s population is growing — estimated to more than 9 billion people by 2050. This is significant and will require a wide range of solutions to ensure we have an adequate food supply.According to Heilman, some of the solutions to address the global food problems are centuries-old, such as plant breeding, but through new discoveries and advances, these solutions are getting more effective over time. Other practices are newer, since they stem from advanced research and scientific knowledge. “Monsanto is focused on innovation in multiple areas to help increase food production from less land,” Heilman commented.
“Breeding and biotechnology are two of the tools that help us develop seeds that resist drought, disease and insects while increasing food production. Crop protections and biological treatments help us to protect those crops. Precision farming techniques help farmers to plant the right seed, in the right place, at the right time, to maximize both productivity and efficiency.” She also stressed that there is no nutritional or safety difference between GM and non-GM food.