The debate of GMO food production is not new, but what is new is the approach being taken by this new program called GMO Answers. “GMOs are a growing topic of discussion today, with a wide range of questions and emotions,” Cathleen Enright, Ph.D., spokesperson for GMO Answers, said. “Food is personal, so we want to open the door for personal discussions. We recognize we haven’t done the best job communicating about GMOs—what they are, how they are developed, food safety information—the science, data and processes. We want people to join us and ask their tough questions. Be skeptical. Evaluate the information and decide for yourself. We look forward to an open conversation.”
Enright admits, since this is sponsored by the biotech industry including BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences LLC, DuPont, Monsanto Company and Syngenta, there will be a good deal of skepticism. However, she said an open and honest dialogue may win some people over, “Food is personal so we need to be willing to have a discussion that is personal, emotional, and scientific.” She added that this type of open conversation, connecting consumers to experts in academia, government and the industry, is absolutely necessary to advance food and agricultural research to ensure that everyone has access to the highest quality, most sustainably produced food.
The program will focus on social media channels because that is where a good deal of the discussion about GMOs is taking place. She said the industry is ready to take on the tough questions like GMO labels. Enright says the industry is not opposed to GMO labels under certain conditions, “We cannot agree to a label that would convey to consumers that products made from our seed are somehow less nutritious or less safe than food produced by other methods.” She said where critics and supporters can come together is on the issue of choice. Consumers should be free to choose what kind of food they want to eat, and farmers should be free to choose what kind of food they want to produce.
The GMO Answers five core principles are:
- Respecting people around the world and their right to choose healthy food products that are best for themselves and their families
- Welcoming and answering questions on all GMO topics
- Making GMO information, research and data easy to access and evaluate and supporting safety testing of GM products, including allowing independent safety testing of our products by validated science-based methods
- Supporting farmers as they work to grow crops using precious resources more efficiently, with less impact on the environment and producing safe, nutritious food and feed products
- Respecting farmers’ rights to choose the seeds that are best for their farms, businesses and communities and providing seed choices that include non-GM seeds based on market demands
“We are inviting questions and providing accurate information about GMOs. Go to GMOAnswers.com today and submit your questions. Scientists, health and safety professionals, farmers, and other independent experts are excited to share their answers,” Enright said. “In addition to collecting questions online, we will be conducting a nationwide survey to find out the top 10 questions consumers have about GMOs, then we will answer them publicly. We hope to be a reliable resource on how our food is grown.”