The bigger challenge involves the bigger story about global need, he said.
“Plant science and plant technology have to be running full steam, and biotechnology has to be part of the answer,” Burdett said.
The challenge with biotechnology, Stark said, is that it is slow and expensive, making it especially difficult to apply in smaller crops. In 1996, when now Monsanto-owned Seminis developed its GMO squash, its only GMO fresh produce product, things were different.
“Today it’s not just safety testing. It’s product introduction and follow-through. It takes a lot to launch and manage a biotech trait,” Stark said.
Stark said he could see the technology applied to tomatoes and onions down the line.
The industry may have to be careful, though, about how it handles perception of GMO use.
“So let’s say in the next 10 years we develop a tomato that you can store in the fridge and it won’t lose its flavor. Does the industry want to go back then and tell consumers it’s good?” Stark said. “It tends to paint people in a box.”