Monsanto's Robert Fraley Says Talking with Consumers Today, Important to Future Food SecurityWed, 27 Jan 2016 20:02:41 CST
This year marks the 20th anniversary of GMO’s. This technology has become the mostly widely adopted technology by farmers around the world. Before the first products were launched in 1996, it took 15 years of development. Dr. Robert Fraley, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Monsanto joined the company in 1981, where he worked with a small team of scientists to develop the first Roundup Ready soybean seed. Before the first GMO product could be launched, it required the regulatory approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration. With global exports, that also required the regulatory review process of up to 70 counties. Fraley said they had talked about these products to farmers, but they missed communicating with the public. A lot has changed since the 1990’s with the development of the internet and social media.
“It was pretty easy for folks who don’t like GMO’s or don’t like production agriculture or don’t like Monsanto to raise issues and create stories and myths about the technology,” Fraley said. “That was our mistake.”
That led Monsanto to change its communication strategy about three or four years ago. Fraley said they have taken the responsibility to communicate to the public with complete transparency. Monsanto has published thousands of scientific papers and have opened channels of communications on websites and chatrooms. Fraley is very active on Twitter, plus he participates in debates and participates in conversations with different consumer groups.
“What I find is that consumers have a huge interest in food and food security and how their food is produced and frankly I think it’s our responsibility to communicate that,” Fraley said.
Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays interviewed Dr. Fraley at the Cattle Industry Convention in San Diego, California. Click or tap on the LISTEN BAR below to listen to the full interview.
Today, GMO crops are grown in over 30 countries around the world on 400 million plus acres, representing more than one-fourth of the world’s farmland. In the United States, more than 90 percent of the nation’s corn, soybeans, cotton, sugar beets and canola crops are based on the technology.
With the next generation technologies coming out for corn and soybeans, Fraley said this will give farmers more tools with insects, weeds, as well as provide protection against drought and diseases. That’s important in looking at a growing world population, especially in Africa. By 2050, the world’s population will grow to 10 billion people. That’s only 34 years away, so having these important food discussions today are needed for a bright future. He said we all want to live in a world with food affordability and choice for everyone. That’s means farming and food production will have to change to meet that challenge of doubling the food supply in the future. He said agricultural producers need to reach out to consumers and talk about how it’s changed and how it’s improved now into the future.
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