Agricultural biotechnology is one of the most polarizing topics in the news today, and both supporters and opponents often dig in their heels as much as they do over political and religious affiliations. One of the big differences is that, while political and religious ideology is subjective, biotech foods can be tested and evidence can be quantified.
That’s not to say the results and meaning behind them shouldn’t be debated, but there should be much more room in the middle ground with ag-biotech because there is a great deal of hard evidence (nearly 2,000 peer-reviewed studies, many independently funded, over the past 10 years alone). This data should function as a basis that everyone can agree upon, and in a way it has. In fact, the most reputable scientific organizations (including WHO, AMA, UN FAO) all agree on the core concepts – that approved biotech crops are safe and offer tangible benefits.
However, while the vast majority of the scientific community is in agreement, it’s a different story in the public sphere. A recent study by Rutgers found that over half of US consumers (54%) say they know very little or nothing at all about genetically modified foods.
This leaves a gaping hole of knowledge open for exploitation. We’ve blogged before about how disreputable sources use fear tactics to advance their agenda, using the example of thousands of concerned consumers who signed a petition to ban dihydrogen monoxide (also known as water!) before learning anything about it for themselves.
An unfortunate example of fear-based views hurting the scientific discussion came last fall when PopularScience.com shut off the comments section of their online articles. They did so because evidence shows even a few negative reader comments makes other readers more polarized in their interpretation of a science-based story, rather than more open-minded. It’s disappointing that these conversations must be marginalized to protect the objective presentation of science.
At Okanagan Specialty Fruits we firmly believe open communication and transparency are the most important step towards coexistence and cooperation, so you won’t see us blocking comments or inquiries. However, if you do have thoughts or questions to share, we hope you’ll join us by focusing on evidence rather than emotion to help foster meaningful discussion!