We are in the 17th year of having biotech crops with over 3 billion acres planted. And we are facing a well funded and well organized opposition to GMO. Curently there are 33 states with active legislation to label food with GMO. The first quarter of this year has been very busy for BIO, and fighting the anti-gm movement is one of the most expensive issues BIO has had to address.
I was at the US Farmers and Ranchers Food Dialogues super session, and there was a great discussion about GM foods. Below a some of the snippets from that conversation. I am sure the video will be posted, and I will update this post with that video.
We are only having this conversation because we have disposable income, I'm more concerned about the poor countries of the world who don't have the luxury to discard this industry. Dr Bob Goldberg, UCLA
Gm crops are important to farmers because they can produce more crops on less land with less fertilized. We need to have a dialog on how to come to consensus on how to work together. There is room for every kind of farmer, we want to help improve things and we want to take that to the world and help places whe people are healthy. Pam Johnson Iowa Corn Farmer
Consumers are scraping their heads about gm, asking what do I get out of this. Industry has not done a good job of explaining the benefits from the production side translate to the consumer side. Michael Olsen, producer/host of Food Chain Radio
Regulatory burden and activist pushback keeps us from reaching the consumer. Organic products have no oversight, bringing a gm product to market is complex and expensive. Dr Bob Goldberg, UCLA
We can't possibly anticipate all unintended side effects, we need more premarket testing before we release these products on the market. Melinda Hemmelgarn from Food Sleuth
If increase in allergies is attribute to gm crops, then why do farm children have the lowest instance of allergies, also why do we fear things we don't know? Question from Farmer from Nebraska
I just returned form South Korea and they were worried about the drought and worried about food security, and I think that consumers are going too start to demand gm products. Pam Johnson Iowa Corn Farmer
A man with bread has many problems, a man without bread has only one problem. Steve Smith, SaveOurCrops.org
It seems that most of the gm labeling laws are more anti industry than pro consumer. Audience question
One reason there is so much activism is because you have large corporations with secrets. Emily Anthis, Frakenstein's Cat.
We are not seeing biodiversity with gm crops, this is what concerns us. And when we talk about long term sustainability on this planet, this concerns us. Melinda Hemmelgarn from Food Sleuth
I see corn as a national treasure and not something to be demonized. It is far from true that I am in a big corporations back pocket. we have choice, every year we look at what seed to buy from different companies. I am worried about being denied access to the most recent and innovative product. Pam Johnson Iowa Corn Farmer
I find it sad to call gm crops a monoculture, if you look at their genetic sequence, you will see that there is a huge difference in the genome. In fact, gm maintains diversity by cutting down in cross breeding. Dr Bob Goldberg, UCLA
There is no more exciting time than there is in plant biology now. There is room for the younger generation in this industry. (In response to the question about how there is no room in farming for the younger generation) Pam Johnson Iowa Corn Farmer
It's not industry v charitable organization. The organics industry has a lot to gain from labeling. We need to look at underlying interests in labeling. Emily Anthis, Frakenstein's Cat
If we want more choice why don't we remote the USDA Certified Organics Program. Audience Question
This really was a great discussion. I think it is very simple, there is no other way we can address all of the issues facing our food industry (growing population, nutrition, and changing environment). GMO is one of the most tested and scrutinized products, almost every science organization and regulatory organization, and industry groups like the AMA have stated that GM foods are safe. GM labeling bills are counter productive to the states economic development. Placing the burden on the industry, it will impact business. And finally, as a society, we need to make sciences based decision, not emotional based decisions when developing legislation.
I do agree that we need to do a better job of talking about the benefits of GM crops and the promise they have to solve some major issues. I also really liked Pam Johnson, the Iowa Corn Farmer, who kept saying there is room for all of us, we have room for both gm and organics. I agree with this, but I do not agree with labeling laws they benefit organics by making the biotech industry pay. As Emily Anthis said, this is not a small nonprofit fighting big industry, organics is a big industry and they have a lot to gain from labeling.
More on this subject from other BIO 2013 programs.
This is a conversation, not an editorial. Did I forget something, get it wrong or do you agree? Please Comment, Like, Re-Tweet and Share.