GMO Answers: A listening ear for troubled consumers - The Packer

GMO Answers: A listening ear for troubled consumers

01/13/2014 05:27:00 PM
Tom Karst

 From one of those results, Steve Savage writes of 800-pound gorillas and biotech adoption. 

Read the whole piece for a good perspective on the role that big corporations have had in the debate. Savage brings the reader up to date on the latest biotech issues facing the agriculture industry and retailers. From the column, Savage writes:

 

Last year, Seminis Seeds (a Monsanto subsidiary) commercialized some new insect resistant sweet corn hybrids. Even though Syngenta’s Bt sweet corn had already been on the market for many years, the major grocery retailers and processors had quietly suppressed its use and it was mainly grown for the roadside market. Thus few of the mostly local sweet corn growers ever got to take advantage of that technology which could have saved them many insecticide sprays each season. (90) The anti-GMO crowd tried to make a big issue of the new hybrids and threatened to sponsor a boycott of Wal-Mart if they carried the product. Wal-Mart (an eight hundred pound gorilla if there ever was one) was bold enough to say that they saw no reason not to carry Bt sweet corn. Whether they actually did isn’t clear. Still, the controversy faded.

Perhaps scientists, farmers and reasonable people in general can encourage the gorillas to take a different stand this time. For instance, I’d like to be first in line to buy “Arctic Apple” from some brave retailer and then pass them out to friends and family. (91) With social networking organizing something like that with lots of supporters is certainly possible. Maybe things could start small with deliveries to a few distribution points in people’s garages. How about coming together to enjoy some fries from whatever restaurant is first willing to talk about using a healthier oil to cook low acrylamide potatoes? How about writing campaigns to encourage gorilla companies to stand up to the purveyors of fear.

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Savage has unreasonably high expectations for Wal-Mart and other big chain stores if he believes they will “first in line” to buy Arctic apples, given the weight of public comments against the Arctic apple. Note the thousands of comments against the Arctic apple on the flickering regulations.gov website. But this give and take about biotech in agriculture, these GMO Answers, may be part of a winning strategy toward hard fought consumer acceptance.


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