What is the GMO industry trying to hide?
For many years, the companies that produce biotech seeds focused almost solely on their farmer customers and missed the boat on the importance of also communicating with the public – answering consumers’ questions and providing factual information about GMOs.
This was a mistake on our part. We ceded our story to others, and as a result, some people became suspicious and fearful of foods that come from GMOs and didn’t know or understand why crops made from these seeds were entering the food system.
That changed two years ago. We launched “GMO Answers,” a web-based initiative to provide accurate, verifiable information transparently and a place for consumers to go to get their questions answered. We wanted to create an open conversation about GMOs and company developers, particularly the six large agricultural seed companies – BASF Plant Sciences, Bayer, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto Company and Syngenta – who sponsor this effort.
They have: 850 questions to-date. Close to 800 have already been answered. Independent, volunteer experts have answered questions such as, “Are GMOs causing an increase in allergies” or “Do GMOs cause cancer?” We do not compensate them.
Company experts have replied too, for example to questions such as, “If GMOs are so great, why does Monsanto serve organic produce in it's cafeteria,” “Are GMOs contributing to the death of bees and butterflies,” and “Are these scientists all wrong, there are over 800 scientists who all believe GMOs are a bad idea…”
We welcome all parties to participate in a respectful, healthy conversation about biotech crops on GMO Answers. We don’t edit questions. We invite disclosure and discourse. Answers are accompanied with the name and photo of experts. The response has been incredible.
But it appears that some may not want this conversation to take place. We learned recently that one critic filed a request under certain states’ Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) laws to try to force public universities to search through and disclose the communications between these independent experts and our company sponsors, as well as communications with related entities or persons. While FOIA requests are an important tool for information gathering, we’re concerned about how they can be used against scholars who research and speak out on controversial issues. In short, this recent FOIA effort may have the design or effect of quieting the voices of some of the world's most talented experts on agricultural biotechnology by harassing and discouraging them from contributing to the dialogue.
What are they looking for? Evidence of the industry buying answers? Proof that we’re influencing experts’ opinions? They will find none. GMO Answers exists for people who are skeptical of GMOs. Nothing is off limits – because the GMO industry has nothing to hide and believes in the science, testing and safety of its products. GMO Answers has been clear about its goal: a commitment to an open and transparent dialogue. This entire effort is about sharing information – not hiding it.
We’ve seen the benefits provided by the adoption of GMO seeds around the world, enabling farmers to produce crops using less – reductions in fertilizer, water, insecticides and on-farm fuel use have been documented year after year. Drought tolerant crops have been introduced to better withstand the impacts of climate change, and salt tolerant and heat tolerant crops are in development. More farmers have adopted biotech crops in developing countries than in industrialized/developed ones. We stand by the science. So do thousands of prestigious academics and scientists.
So what is the GMO industry hiding? Nothing. Ask us anything. We’ll answer as best we can, with the most scientifically accurate information available.