The first step to opening that dialogue is acknowledging people’s skepticism about food made with GM ingredients. “We have great stories that are not being heard because we are not believed,” she said. “Only when our audiences understand we are listening to them will they listen to us.” To that end, BIO last year launched the GMO Answers website, through which they invite anyone to ask any question about biotechnology. And ask people did. From July through December, 626 questions were posed and 404 were answered. Another 100-plus are in the process of being answered. Also during this time, there were more than 120,000 visits to the site and more than 526,000 page views, with visitors spending more than 5 minutes on the site on average—a significant amount of time. The questions are answered by independent, third-party experts. Enright also credits the website for the uptick in biotech coverage by the mainstream media. “Who wouldn’t be interested in asking Monsanto, Dow or DuPont the tough questions?” Enright asked. Whether it’s a considerable undertaking like GMO Answers or a conversation between a farmer and grocery store customer, the main goal is to give people the whole story so they can make up their own minds. There’s too much at stake not to succeed, she added. “We are going to need as much knowledge, diversity and innovation as possible to feed the world.”
Enright’s comment that “Only when our audiences understand we are listening to them will they listen to us” is dead on. Still, will that listening ear be enough? Enright notes that consumer opposition to GMOs in the U.S. is on the rise; GMO labeling activity in 30 states is surely sobering for biotech proponents.
Check out the GMO Answers website here.