Feeding on Fear

“I now say that the world has the technology—either available or well advanced in the research pipeline—to feed on a sustainable basis a population of 10 billion people. The more pertinent question today is whether farmers and ranchers will be permitted to use this new technology?” Norman Borlaug, 2000

A very good question indeed, Mr. Borlaug. This inquiry is even more pertinent today than it was 20 years ago. Will food producers be allowed to fulfill their duty of feeding a growing population by utilizing biotechnology, or will fear mongering anti-agriculturalists stand in the way?

I have strong opinions on a lot of things, and GMOs are near the top of that list. Fortunately, my strong opinions are supported by even stronger facts. More than 2,000 peer-reviewed scientific journals and over 2 decades of research into genetically modified organisms have proven that they are 100% safe to consume. The World Health Organization, American Medical Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have all agreed on this as well. In fact, some researchers have pointed out that they’re probably SAFER than non-GMO products because of the extensive testing that they undergo compared to their conventional counterparts. So why do 57% of American consumers believe that it’s unsafe to eat genetically modified foods?

Misinformation is the number one culprit for this widespread consumer anxiety. It also doesn’t help that major companies such as Whole Foods, Chipotle, Abbott, and Trader Joe’s are swearing off GMOs to give consumers “peace of mind”. Some states have even passed laws requiring labels on genetically engineered foods to “help people avoid potential health risks of food produced from genetic engineering”. Instead of deciding for consumers what’s safe and what isn’t, why don’t they provide scientific facts and let us decide for ourselves?

The truth is, some people are starving. They’re starving because they don’t have access to enough food, and they don’t have access to enough food because anti-agriculture groups are unjustifiably protesting against harmless GMOs that have the potential to feed a growing world. They say it’s better to be safe than sorry, but to what extent? To the extent that 821 million people are suffering from malnutrition? I believe this is the single most important battle we’ll have to fight in coming years in terms of food production. We have the resources to grow enough food. We have the bright minds to do so. The only thing we need is the support of consumers in order to overturn the influence of groups touting false GMO claims. We have to stop feeding on fear and start feeding on facts.

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