GMO Answers Stands by Our Commitment to Answering Questions with Transparency
GMO Answers is committed to having a continued conversation about how our food is grown. We accept and do our best to answer, any and every question that is submitted to the website about GMOs – no matter its subject or tone. Our team reviews these inquiries and solicits feedback from experts across a wide range of disciplines in order to provide consumers with balanced, fact-based, easy-to-understand responses to their questions.
Since the GMO Answers launch in July 2013, 966 questions have been answered.
US Right to Know filed a Freedom-of-Information Act request earlier this year for – according to reports – 40 researchers at public universities to disclose their email correspondence with many companies and organizations in the biotechnology field, including GMO Answers and our communications agency. While many of these experts have helped answer questions on www.gmoanswers.com, some have not. In addition, many of the experts who contribute to GMO Answers were not included in this inquiry because they are not employees of a government institution, such as a public university.
GMO Answers has nothing to hide – we do not buy answers or work to influence the opinions of the experts who contribute to the site. This initiative was created to share information, not hide it, and to that end we are providing our process for working with independent experts and answering questions. Frankly, in the past the biotechnology industry has not always done the best job in simply answering consumer questions about GMOs – so we started a new process to change that. That process is detailed below. Click to Tweet
About the GMO Answers Q&A Process:
GMO Answers is committed to finding the best experts to answer consumer questions. Depending on the nature of the question, the answer may be provided by an independent expert, industry organization, the GMO Answers Community Manager or an expert from a member company (Bayer, BASF, Dow, DuPont, Monsanto, Syngenta).
We ask experts to draft responses that are authentically theirs and in their own words. This approach is core to our credibility and commitment to transparency.
How We Work With Independent Experts To Answer Questions:
Many of the questions submitted to GMO Answers are answered by third-party experts – some who are employees of public universities and thus subject to FOIA requests. In these cases, a question received on our site is routed to one or more independent experts who volunteer to provide answers within their field of expertise. We do not pay experts to answer questions. And experts answer questions on their own time and at their own pace.
Once the third-party expert provides an answer, it is fact checked and reviewed for basic grammar. No edits are made without the consent of the expert.
In addition, we will occasionally make suggestions to experts when an answer may be confusing to a non-scientific audience. Our goal for GMO Answers is to make sure consumers can get their questions answered clearly. Given the complexity of some of the questions (see www.gmoanswers.com for examples), this can take time and careful thought. GMO Answers encourages experts to write responses using language and terms a non-scientific person can understand. The experts make changes or authorize edits. Each answer is uniquely the expert’s response.
Once the expert provides the final answer to GMO Answers, it is proofed for punctuation and typos, but the content is not changed or edited.
Prepared Language and Sources:
Getting ready for the launch of GMO Answers – a first of its kind effort to answer consumer questions – and in anticipation of a high volume of questions, the team prepared by initially drafting facts and sources that could be used by an expert if that individual believed it to be useful for his/her answer. This part of the process has been eliminated because it was unnecessary, cumbersome and not helpful to the experts.
Today, the GMO Answers team does sometimes provide links to scientifically verified facts, articles or other existing answers on the website that could be used as reference for experts when drafting answers, but there is no obligation to use the links.
While we do not pay for experts’ answers and contributions to the GMO Answers website, at times experts have traveled to speak at or participate in events on behalf of the initiative. In these cases, we have reimbursed experts for their travel expenses. Outside of this reimbursement, though, experts are voluntarily taking time from their busy schedules and jobs to participate in these events.