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Karl's Column - Yes or No on GMO

by Cassandra Basore

 I don’t know how many years ago I was first party to a discussion on Genetically Modified Organisms - - it’s a bit more personal now, as there is within my own extended family, serious concern about this matter of GMO.  In this case, it revolves around food safety, and what the kids should eat, and from what they should be protected.  I don’t see that it’s an explosive issue within family discussions.  It’s a matter of “This is what I believe, and this is how I’ll deal with it.”  No harm, no foul, as I see it.

On the world stage, however, it is and explosive issue.  Not that any pyrotechnics have been involved so far as I know, but the ramifications are monumentally critical to this matter of feeding the hungry around the world. GMO has permitted - -indeed contributed to- - the expanded availability of a great variety of foodstuffs, produced primarily by the “haves” to the benefit of the “have nots”

GMO is, of course, very much a part of modern agriculture, and so it should come as no surprise that there is the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).  BIO’s executive vice president for food and agriculture, Dr. Cathleen Enright told the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 95th Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas, that there’s still plenty of opportunity for farmers, ranchers and the biotech industry to change the conversation about genetically modified organisms. The adoption of GM crops is on the rise around the world, and, at the same time, more and more organizations are working to create fear, attack agriculture and malign biotechnology companies.

Among the more serious concerns within the GMO community, including modern agriculture, is the ballot proposal, in one form or another, proposed in 30-some states last year.  They all, according to Dr Enright’s presentation, are framed as “consumers right to know”, they exempted alcohol, dairy, meat and restaurant food, and would allow lawsuits based on asserted noncompliance.  To oppose such efforts state-by-state, she says is unsustainable and untenable.  I’ll just bet the anti-bio folks are well aware of that.  To me, it’s somewhat reminiscent of the tactics of HSUS, in its actions against animal agriculture.

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) last year launched the GMO Answers website, through which anyone can ask any question about biotechnology, and get answers from independent, third-party experts.

It’s been so effective, Dr Enright says, that it’s generated an up-tick in biotech coverage by the mainstream media.

GMO Answers is obviously a very effective communications means.  So is one farmer explaining to one supermarket customer.  But it takes longer.