Scan headlines in a newspaper or news Website, scroll through posts friends have shared on Facebook or even do a quick Pinterest search for "healthy dinner recipes," no matter where you turn, it is highly probable three letters will show up - GMO.
It's no secret, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) are currently a hot topic. Despite good press recently from the Washington Post and Forbes, fear mongering from documentaries like, GMO OMG, tv personalities such as Dr. OZ and mommy bloggers turned Google scientists, consumers are left feeling confused and skeptical about what is right/wrong and wondering where to find accurate information.
This is where farmers come in. Who better to get the information from than the person planting Bt Corn seed in the ground? Yes, no longer is the ostrich method - head in sand, waiting for the public to find something else to worry about - going to cut it.
"Wait just one minute, I am not a GMO expert. I can't answer consumer questions," might be the thoughts passing through as you read this. Guess what? That's okay!
It's not about educating every consumer in your path. It's about having conversations, being relatable, planting seeds of information and handing them the tools to go forth and draw their own conclusions.
What can I expect to be asked and what can I say?
- Do GMO's cause cancer? No. Over 1,000 studies have proved GMO's to be safe and pose no greater risk than conventional counterparts.
- Are companies, like Monsanto, forcing farmers to grow GMO's? Farmers choose the seed they want from the vendor they want. Seed decisions are based on market demand, local growing environments and needs of the specific farm.
- Are GMO's contaminating organic crops? Farmers have produced different crops next to each other before and since GM seeds entered the market. Management of ANY type of seed requires: farmer-to-farmer communication, crop rotation, buffer rows and recordkeeping.
- There aren't long-term studies on GMO plants. (This one is more of an accusation.) Actually, there are, GM crops are extensively and repeatedly reviewed by the USDA, EPA and FDA. It takes years for a GM crop to gain approval. The University of Kentucky released an excel sheet compiling every study proving GM crop safety. ( UK excel file linked here.)
- Why are biotech companies against labeling GMO foods? A label suggests there is a safety or health concern. Which there is not. If a consumer wanted to be certain what they are purchasing is non-GMO, they can purchase items labeling USDA Organic.
Where can I go to learn more?
Having a conversation about GMO's isn't about machine-gunning information, but being well versed on the subject is never a bad thing. These sites offer quality information and links: