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‚ÄčChanging GMO Conversation will Require Open Dialogue



(NAFB)--Dr. Cathleen Enright says despite the head start biotechnology opponents have - there’s still plenty of opportunity for farmers, ranchers and the biotechnology industry to change the conversation about genetically modified organisms. Enright - Biotechnology Industry Organization Executive Vice President for Food and Agriculture - says the key to making that change happen is an open and transparent dialogue with consumers. Just as adoption of GM crops is on the rise around the world - so is consumer opposition in the U.S. Enright notes more and more organizations are working to create fear, attack agriculture and malign biotechnology companies. And she says it appears to be working - as there were legislative efforts and ballot initiatives aimed at making labeling mandatory in more than 30 states in 2013. Enright says opposing these efforts on a state-by-state basis is unsustainable and untenable. Anti-GMO groups were among the first to use social media to establish their message and rally people around their cause - but Enright says biotech supporters are catching up. With research showing people who have unfavorable opinions about GMOS base their purchasing decisions on other factors - like price - Enright says there is an opening for farmers, ranchers and other biotech proponents.


According to Enright - the first step to opening a dialogue is acknowledging people’s skepticism about food made with GM ingredients. She says our audiences will only listen when they understand we are listening to them. BIO launched the GMO Answers website last year. More than six-hundred questions were posed on that site from July through December. Slightly more than four-hundred were answered with another 100-plus in the process of being answered. During the same time - there were more than 120-thousand visits to the site and more than 526-thousand page views. Visitors spent an average of more than five minutes on the site. Enright credits the website for the uptick in biotech coverage by the mainstream media. Whether it’s a website like GMO Answers or a conversation between a farmer and grocery store customer - the main goal is to give people the whole story so they can make up their own minds. Enright says there’s too much at stake not to succeed. She says we’re going to need as much knowledge, diversity and innovation as possible to feed the world.

Enright spoke during a workshop at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 95th Annual Convention.

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