Apologies to George Michael, but I’ve been thinking about this a lot this past week. GMO Answers had a booth at the 100th annual FNCE conference in Chicago this past week, and we did a lot of listening, and a lot of talking. This meeting is attended by those in the food and nutrition community, many of them registered dietitians. While a majority of the people who came up to our booth were supportive of GMOs, some had questions about them. We realize that most people don’t know that much about the subject of GMOs, and this was our opportunity to educate people about them. People want to know:
- Are they safe?
- Are they okay to eat?
- Are they healthy?
- Are they nutritionally the same as non-GMO foods?
- Are they okay for the environment?
- Why do people make such a big deal about GMOs?
The answers for the first five questions are easy: yes. But I didn’t really have a pat answer for the last one. I can only provide the facts I know. I can’t give a definitive answer to why people don’t want to eat genetically modified foods, because there is no definitive answer. In the process, though, I was reminded to listen more, and provide facts less.
Sometimes, people just want to be heard. They don’t want you to solve their problems. They don’t necessarily need you to reply. They just want to you to listen.
In the case of GMOs, people want to know that their concerns matter. Now, it is our job to let people know the facts about GMO technology, but it’s also our job to have honest and open discussions.
I spent a lot of time answering people’s questions about GMOs at this conference. Should I have spent more time listening to people’s questions? Probably. Should I have spent more time listening to people’s concerns? Definitely. Lesson learned.
It’s only by listening, without prejudice, without judgement, to people’s concerns that we can really find out what their questions are. And it’s only them that we can find a common ground and find common values.
This past week was a good reminder of that, and I think we all need to be reminded of that sometimes.
If you would like to know more about GMOs, please visit the GMO Answers website. And if you’d like to ask a question or share your concerns, you can also do that on the GMO Answers website. We welcome and answer any and all questions.