AExpert Answer

Thank you for coming to GMO Answers! A couple of experts have commented on this topic, and we would like to share their responses with you.

 

Mary Mertz, a Kansas farmer, answered a similar question, and here is an excerpt from her response:

 

“In my opinion, the biggest problem with the seeds is the amount of misinformation that is being circulated out there. GMOs have a public-image problem. The science-based reality proving GMOs to be safe and nutritious takes a backseat to the emotional propaganda meant to create skepticism in the mind of the consumer.

 

“The National Academy of Sciences, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the American Dietetic Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, among many other reputable institutes and organizations, find GMOs to be as safe and nutritious as foods produced in any other way. 

 

“People unassociated with farming may have the impression that farmers no longer have a choice in terms of the seeds that they buy for crop planting. This is not the case. There are options; there are many seed companies, from which to purchase the supply.  We choose the seeds we use based upon many factors, top of which would be performance (higher yields with lesser use of other inputs, like pesticides).”

 
Although GM seeds are considered safe by leading research and medical organizations, as Mary pointed out in her response, misinformation about GMOs can be appealing. You might also be interested in the essay “Why GMO Myths Are So Appealing and Powerful,” by Cami Ryan, research associate at the College of Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan. The essay can be accessed online. An excerpt is below:

 

“Recently, an executive with a biotech trade group asserted in an interview that it wasn’t too late to win the hearts and minds of consumers suspicious of genetically modified foods (131). Biotech advocates just need to do a better job of explaining the technology and its benefits. The headline for the piece read:

 

“‘It’s not too late to change the conversation on GMOs.’

 

“While I admire this optimism and agree that we should continue to engage in conversations about GMOs, there are certain present-day realities that constrain our efforts to find common ground on this very controversial topic.

 

“At the top of this list is the sheer amount of information we are inundated with every day. Many of us are tapped into mobile technology. We are referred to as ‘just in time’ users (Rainie and Fox 2012). We account for 62% of the entire adult population who often look to online sources and online social networks for information. Anti-GMO interest groups have successfully leveraged these networks to disseminate misinformation and influence public opinion. Using carefully crafted words (frankenfoods!) (132) and images (syringes in tomatoes) (133), they create myths—GM corn causes cancer (134), fish genes have been forced into tomatoes (135) or GM corn kills the larvae of monarch butterflies (136)—that tap into people’s fears about genetic engineering…”

 

This essay is part of the book The Lowdown on GMOs: According to Science, available online in its entirety.

 

If you have any additional questions, please ask. Please feel free to contribute to the discussion in the comment section below!

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