Will consumers embrace the biotech Arctic apple?

The question of public acceptance of the GMO non-browning apple is not easily answered now. Certainly most public comments to the USDA about the apple’s quest for non-regulated status raise warning flags.

With the heat generated by the Arctic apple and other biotech crops, the Biotech Industry Organization is not turning a deaf ear to consumer concerns about biotechnology in food and farming.

Far from it. The group last year launched a website called GMO Answers. The site invites readers to ask questions about GMOs of experts in the field.

Former Western Growers executive Cathleen Enright — now the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s executive vice president for food and agriculture — talked about the effort in a recent speech at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention in San Antonio.

“Only when our audiences understand we are listening to them will they listen to us,” she said in her presentation.

Giving consumers an interactive and responsive forum to ask questions about biotechnology is exactly the right thing to do.

Is it enough? For example, can it forestall efforts in 30 U.S. states to introduce labeling for biotech food?

Not likely.

The dynamics of the biotech debate are far from settled, and we make no comment here whether the U.S. consumer is prepared now, or will be in 10 years, to embrace biotech varieties of fresh produce.

But, at the very least, the GMO Answers website provides a dialogue where consumer trust and knowledge about biotechnology can gain a stronger footing.

Did The Packer get it right? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.