Let’s Talk Biotech Food

Farmer Gene

Last week The Oregonian published an editorial called “Lawmakers should slow down on GMO labeling, a drive based on fear” saying Oregon lawmakers should not pass House Bill 2532 and other like it aiming to label GMOs:

“Under this proposed law, any food deriving its growth or production from a GMO would need to feature a ‘prominent statement’ on the packaging that it contains genetically altered material. Never mind that more than 80 percent of the soybeans, corn and beet sugars produced — common ingredients in processed foods — feature genetically altered material. Never mind that the bill states it is ‘necessary for the immediate preservation of the peace, health and safety’ and that “an emergency is declared to exist.”

Lawmakers should take a pass on this or any bill like it. As well-intended as such measures are, they court unintended, regressive effects. Research already shows that “positive” labels — that a food contains something — insinuate warning. The consequence of that is the likely suppression of sales, disrupting producers and driving prices up.

By contrast, “negative” labels — a packaging statement that a food is free of something — are more neutral. But either way, signaling that a food product contains or is free of something of unknown harm is a step closer to declaring an emergency that doesn’t exist.”

Fear-inducing labels are not the answer. It’s important to get a conversation going about biotech foods as more and more consumers want to know what they’re eating and better understand food production.

At BIO’s International Convention next month in Chicago, the plan is to do just that as robust food and agriculture discussions are planned to take place. “We are very excited to return to Chicago, centered in America’s heartland, where food commodities are exchanged and philosophies about agricultural production are debated,” said Dr. Cathleen Enright, Executive Vice President for Food & Agriculture at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

“With so many issues being debated within the U.S. food and agriculture arena, let’s talk.” A featured event at the convention will be The Food Dialogues: The Straight Story on Biotech in Agriculture: Media and its Impact on Consumerson Monday, April 22.

Hosted by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA®), The Food Dialogues bring together farmers, industry experts, scientists, pundits, media and consumers with varying perspectives. This panel will have a frank discussion about how much the media impacts consumers’ knowledge of biotechnology and the use of GMOs in food production.

Other sessions include Biotech Crops: Tackling Resistance and Myths, Challenges and Opportunities for Small Companies in AgBiotech: Collaborating and Competing with the Majors, Going on the Offense: Proactive Strategies to Reduce Uncertainty and more.

The BIO International Convention will also feature a Food & Agriculture Pavilion located at the main entrance of the Exhibition Floor where you can find a series of attention-grabbing programs such as “Agricultural Biotechnology: Feeding a Hungry Planet and Saving Lives”, a Tedx Talk by Neal Carter, president of Okanagan Specialty Fruit (Wednesday, April 24, 10:30 am – 11:15 am). It will also showcase educational displays and interactive demonstrations.

Find the most up-to-date programming and more information on scheduled speakers coming to the convention and let’s talk food.

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