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July 10, 2014

A.J. Watson

A Tuskegeee University professor brought the words of George Washington Carver to Washington D.C. when she appeared at a public hearing for biotechnology yesterday.

Dr. Olga Bolden-Tiller, assistant professor and chair of the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at Tuskegee, joined a dairy farmer from Vermont and professors from Harvard and Cornell to highlight the benefits of biotechnology in agriculture.

“Technological advances are used in many fields of science (e.g. medicine),” she said. “However, when posed for agricultural products, some hesitate. Even Carver noted in his thesis ("Plants as Modified by Man") that, ‘the chemist takes original elements or compounds, breaks up their combination or combines them into various proportions to suit his purpose.'”

Bolden-Tiller highlighted Tuskegee’s role in biotechnology development for developing countries, citing their derivative of a sweet potato that increased protein content up to 500 percent.

She said the potato was “the difference between malnutrition and survival” in developing countries.

“We’re excited people are talking about the benefits of biotechnology,” said Mitt Walker, Director of National Legislative Affairs for Alfa. “Tuskegee has a long-standing history of agricultural significance in our state, and we’re pleased to have them weigh in on this debate.”

Bolden-Tiller closed by asking Congress to increase discussion and awareness about the benefits of biotechnology.

“The science is advancing; what is not advancing adequately is the communication and conversations about biotechnology with all components of our society. Creativity and resources must be increased to bring all members of the U.S. family along in terms of sharing in the benefits of the new technologies to improve in their quality of life.”

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