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9 June 2013 - What Should We Do?

A few days ago I received a rather lengthy e-mail from a farmer, who started with a question. . . “What should we do?” Except he worded it a little differently, it was more like “What in the ______are we, as food producers, supposed to do to respond to the concerns being expressed by consumers, concerns over the use of biotechnology, genetically modified organisms (GMO’s).” I prefer GEO’s, genetically enhanced organisms.

He said, “I am at my wit’s end on what to do to meet their concerns, because frankly, they don’t have knowledge of what it takes to put food on the dinner table.” He used a little history to make his point. He said. . . “Back in the 70's, we were criticized by consumers and environmentalists for using too much fertilizer and too many herbicides and pesticides to produce food.” He said. . . “We in the agribusiness community listened and we changed. Thanks to biotechnology and those GEO’s, today we use far less in the way of chemical crop protection. Thanks to sophisticated GPS, Global Positioning Systems, we are able to apply much less fertilizer and we now apply it only where it is needed.”

He said “We responded to the concerns and the criticisms back in the 70's. Now we are criticized for using that technology, when study after study shows there is no danger in the foods that come from GMO’s, yet we have people protesting and people who are pushing for ballot votes on labeling GMO foods in every food that we eat. What will it take to respond to all of this?”

Well, of course, it takes more education, and that gets more challenging all the time as we have fewer farmers in this country and more non-farm consumers. We need to do more education through Ag in the Classroom, U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance and state agricultural leadership programs that explain what we do in factual and not emotional terms. And never forget that one-on-one conversation is still the most effective means of communicating our story to our friend and neighbors who may not understand.

He ended his e-mail by making this point and I think it is a valid point, he said. . . “As I watch the demonstrations against GMO and biotechnology on television, I notice, every time, that all of the protestors against bio-technology are pretty well-fed, unlike many other people on the planet who would suffer even more without biotechnology.” A point well made and I agree!

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.