GMOs Offer the Hope of Feeding Nine Billion Mouths in 2050Mon, 13 Jan 2014 14:11:39 CST
Ensuring access to biotechnology was the topic that Dr. Cathleen Enright of BIO- the Biotechnology Inudstry Organization, presented on during the American Farm Bureau's 95th annual convention this week in San Antonio.
Dr. Enright is the Executive VP for Food and Agriculture at BIO. Her presentation focused on the need to advocate on behalf of biotech in light of challenges from activists and others. She also drove home the point that farmers and ranchers need to have access to this technology.
"The current climate is challenging as I'm sure you are aware. There is a lot of opposition that has come on the last couple of years. Folks are making very good use of social media with an online presence. Our industry hasn't done a very good job of that. These folks had an agenda and they did a really good job of making their case. We just weren't there. Now, we have a website to begin the conversation. It is one piece of a multi-pronged strategy that we have to pay full attention to and invest in."
Dr. Enright stated that GMO's are the only technology that allows us to make multi-year gains in a single season. She added that this means profitability for famers and the ability to meet the world's food demand and feed 9 billion people by 2050.
Dr. Enright reminded the audience there has not been any scientific study proving there is any negative impact from GMO's. She adds that it's simply a gene of known sequence and function that produces a trait in a crop that is of known function and structure. There is no mystery.
The first step to opening that dialogue is acknowledging people's skepticism about food made with GM ingredients.
"We have great stories that are not being heard because we are not believed," she said. "Only when our audiences understand we are listening to them will they listen to us."
Last year BIO launched a website called GMO Answers.Com through which they invite anyone to ask any question about biotechnology. And ask people did. From July through December, 626 questions were posed and 404 were answered. Another 100-plus are in the process of being answered. Also during this time, there were more than 120,000 visits to the site and more than 526,000 page views, with visitors spending more than 5 minutes on the site on average. These questions are answered by independent, third-party experts.
BIO is hitting the road with GMO Answers and collaborating with many other organizations to help educate the public about biotech. Dr. Enright explains that this technology isn't going away, but we do need to speak out and explain it.
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