QWhy do so many people oppose GM technology, in the face of overwhelming clear and convincing scientific evidence that it causes no harm and offers great benefits, both now and in the future? How can those of us in favour of it effectively make our case?

Why do so many people oppose GM technology, in the face of overwhelming clear and convincing scientific evidence that it causes no harm and offers great benefits, both now and in the future? How can those of us in favour of it effectively make our case?

AExpert Answer

As a farmer, I have had the opportunity to hear concerns about how we raise our food.  Many times I have been asked if I am an organic farmer or where they can buy my products.  It seems the majority of consumers that have come into contact with a farmer have only done so through farmers markets.  There the consumer meets the producer, develops a relationship and trust is built in the product as well as in the producer.

 

When I direct the conversation towards questions about GMOs I am often met with a negative reaction.  GMOs are associated with big companies and big farmers out to make money.  Using science, facts and figures about the many benefits of GM seeds falls on ears that don’t trust the research because they don’t trust the people using it or developing it.  

 

This disconnect between the conventional farmer and the consumer didn’t happen overnight, but it has grown into a movement.  When people join a movement they take responsibility in promoting and advocating the message.  Small farmers and organic foods have become a movement that deserves to be respected as we search for ways to incorporate trust of conventional food production.  

 

Perhaps we can focus on education and transparency as we strive to improve consumer trust in GM foods.  Fear will always be used as a tool to place doubt about the safety of GM foods so it is essential to put fears to rest by coming up with creative ways to develop trust.  

 

Websites are an important tool in education but they are not very personal.  Personal stories seem to resonate the most when connecting people to ideas.  When we went through the farm crisis of the 80s the public at large had great empathy for farmers because faces of families were involved in the reporting.  Putting faces on farming will be important if we want to create a movement that supports conventional farming.

 

Moving from fear and distrust to dialogue means that both parties have to be willing to listen. As we listen to the concerns the consumer has about GMOs it will help if we are understanding rather than defensive.  As long as food is plentiful we will have more of a challenge to show the value of increased crop yields.  The reality of shrinking farm acres, water usage and chemical runoff can help us portray the positives of GMOs as the right thing to do right now for the environment.  How we share that message and tell our story will be critical to the future of GMO development. 

Posted on March 9, 2018
Hello, and thank you for your question! Scientists commonly use genetically engineering (GE) to add and subtract genes from ALL sorts of plants, from common weeds to potatoes from the Andes. Most GE is performed only to learn how plants work. While it’s relatively simple to change a plant’s genetics, it’s difficult and expensive to actually improve a plant’s genetics. Thus, only the most “important” crops are targets for GE. Smaller improvements are... Read More
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Posted on March 8, 2018
Hello, and thank you for your question! Scientists commonly use genetically engineering (GE) to add and subtract genes from ALL sorts of plants, from common weeds to potatoes from the Andes. Most GE is performed only to learn how plants work. While it’s relatively simple to change a plant’s genetics, it’s difficult and expensive to actually improve a plant’s genetics. Thus, only the most “important” crops are targets for GE. Smaller improvements are... Read More
Posted on March 9, 2018
Anyone who has traveled through the Southeast and seen kudzu vines along the highway knows that plants can evolve into a negative outcome. There is a similar concern that a GMO can produce negative outcomes in the environment.  Therefore, prior to approving their commercial planting, GMOs must be tested in contained field trials to ensure that they do not behave in ways that could cause problems. To prevent negative outcomes, GMOs must not have the ability to cross with wild... Read More

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