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Will Consumers Accept Agricultural Innovation?

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Will Consumers Accept Agricultural Innovation

Commodity Classic is all about innovation. The main reason many producers attend this annual event is to see what is new in agriculture. The massive trade show is packed with companies large and small showcasing their new products and technology for the farmer. But will the consumers who buy the food that is produced with this new technology accept it? Recently released research by Bayer indicates that consumers lack trust in science and technology in food production and found that U.S. consumers have serious concerns and reservations about the application of technology in food production. Only 31% said they believe that advances in agricultural production technology is safe. Over 75% said they feel the jury is still out on the safety of biotechnology and GMOs in food production.

The Bayer research did, however, have some good news. Consumers still trust farmers. Close to 90% say they trust farmers on issues like food production, food safety, and world hunger. Fifty-eight percent said they would be willing to trust agricultural innovation if they knew more about it. Yet, communicating complex scientific and technical concepts to consumers is not easy. Kelly O’Halloran, who heads up Bayer’s AgVocacy program, stated, “You have to break it down into language and concept that is easy for them to understand and identify with. Take GMO seeds for example. You can describe it as a more modern form of plant breeding, something that has been around for a long time.” She also said you can talk about how biotechnology provides insulin for people with diabetes, “That is something most people can understand and identify with.”

The Bayer AgVocacy program provides training to farmers on how to tell their story and talk to consumers about agricultural innovation. O’Halloran told HAT progress is being made, “Especially in the area of social media. We have seen a 20% shift in positive stories and comments about agriculture on social media channels.” As producers evaluate the new innovations on display at Commodity Classic, it will be vital that work continue to gain consumer trust of this technology and acceptance of the food it produces.