Ahhhhh, Sunday morning. The perfect time to sit down with a cup of coffee and actually open and read some of those links I’ve been eyeing up on twitter and facebook. This week I started jotting down a few ideas for a couple blog posts and now I am searching social media to help with some thoughts to finish one. I read through a few posts and news stories until I stumble upon a newly posted video of a TEDx talk by Robert Saik on GMOs. Knowing Roberts company (AGRI-TREND) and his values, I figure that I should take the 20 minutes and listen, and I am really glad I did.
Our farm is not a customer of AGRI-TREND so there is no conflict of interest, this is not a paid post, and I am not ‘shilling’ in any way. It is sad that these are statements that I feel I have to make when speaking up for biotechnology and agriculture, but the accusation of somehow being employed by “big Ag” (whatever ‘big Ag ‘means) is all too common. Although we are not affiliated with AGRI-TREND in any way I really do admire what Robert has done with it. A company that tackles the many different issues on a farm; finances, technology, and things like environmental responsibility. It has seemingly endless resources to help a farmer balance the numerous consequences every decision on the farm can have while considering production costs and helping to ensure the land (and operation) is viable for years to come. In this day and age of agriculture, farmers are not afraid to admit that sometimes we need help. Depending on the day I know I would get good use out of a degree in commerce, agronomy, and human resources. Not to mention a few courses in heavy duty mechanics, economics, marketing, and business. But AGRI-TREND and balancing the decisions on a farm is another blog post for another day.
Anyone that knows me and follows my blog, twitter or facebook page may find some of this a bit of an echo. You will know that one of my biggest pet peeves is the fear that is used in marketing. Food fear is a growing problem in our society and it is becoming more evident with the growth of products sporting labels such as GMO FREE, GLUTEN FREE, NATURAL, HORMONE FREE, ORGANIC, and the like. Because I am a farmer all of these things cause a bit of a reaction with me, but none so much as GMOs. I am not a science communicator. I find it very difficult to get across why this should be important to the average person because in truth most people don’t really care. Here I am making a simplified list of why I think everyone should pay at least a little attention to this issue.
1) In my mind GMOs are safe.
This is not just my opinion. This is the opinion I have come to after talking to those much more knowledgeable than me on the subject and studying their work. If we are going to grow something on our farm, sell it, and eat it ourselves – I want to make sure it is safe. But don’t take my opinion as fact, listen to the experts. There are over 2000 studies proving that GMOs are safe. Over half of them are independent. GMOs are tested more than any other plant breeding method and on average it takes more than 13 years and 130 million dollars of research and development to bring a GMO to market (the numbers vary slightly from crop to crop but regardless it is 10 to 50 times the level of testing vs. crops bred with other methods). There has been trillion meal studies done, and we have been consuming GMOs for 20 years with no proven ill effects. The scientific consensus is “Genetically engineered crops currently available to the public pose no greater health risks or environmental concerns than their non-engineered counterparts.” – this opinion is held by; The American Medical Association, U.S Food and Drug Administration, World Health Organization, Health Canada, The Royal Society of Medicine, Union of German Academies of Sciences and Humanities, International Council for Science – just to name a few. You can see a more complete list of the organizations around the world that agree, here.