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Farmer’s Right to Choose Ag Biotech

November 13, 2013
BIO wanted to highlight several blogs that represent a trend among farmers and dietitians who see benefit, not harm when choosing GM crops.

The Foodie Farmer blog is written by Jennie Schmidt who says she loves communicating about what farmers are doing to produce a safe and healthy food supply. Schmidt is a Registered Dietitian and a full-time farmer on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

In her recent blog, Top 10 Annoying Words About Agriculture, Jennie polled her ties within the ag community and asked them to give her their top 10 words that annoyed them most when used in referencing agriculture and farming. She states that these words are a way of “stereotyping, generalizing, misrepresenting, and for some, the ulterior motive of spreading misinformation.” Read the full blog to get the farmer perspective on why these words do little to enhance our national dialogue about agriculture and food production:

1. "BIG"
2. "Factory"
3. "Industrial"
4. "Douse"
5. "Pump”
6.  "Corporate"
7.  "GMO/Frankenfoods"
8.  "SuperWeed"
9.  "Shill"
10. "Agrarian"

The Down-To-Earth Dietitian written by Jen Haugen who presents a notable three part blog series on the benefits of food and agriculture biotechnology. Haugen is a Registered Dietitian and has been named Greater Minnesota Media Spokesperson for the Minnesota Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Additionally, in 2012, Jen was named Emerging Dietetic Leader in Minnesota by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

In her blog What’s The Truth About GMO: Food Biotechnology Series (Part 3), Jen explains why farmers use food biotechnology:
“As a nutrition professional and mom, I've interviewed and stood in the fields with farmers and heard how a farmer’s goal is always sustainability; now and in the future. Their livelihood depends on it.

Farmers provide safe, healthy and sustainable crops. Farmers prefer to be this way. These benefits are not only seen in the United States, but also around the world allowing more developing countries to become food secure.”

BIO encourages its readers to visit Jen’s first blog of the series, What’s The Truth About GMO? Food Biotechnology Series, which does a wonderful job of explaining what is a GMO (genetically modified organism) and how numerous reputable scientific agencies have deemed them safe for consumption.

Additionally, Jen remarkably highlights the benefits of GMOs for families, while delicately addressing consumer apprehension, in her blog, Food Biotechnology Series: What’s the Truth About GMO (Part 2).

Lastly, BIO wanted to bring your attention to five farmers’ viewpoints on why biotechnology is essential to fighting the negative effects of climate change.  Speaking at a session titled “The Next Green Revolution: How Farmers Will Feed a Warmer World,” at the 2013 World Food Prize, V.D. Ravichandran, Gilbert Arap Bor, Gabriela Cruz, Santiago del Solar, Julie Borlaug (moderator) and Dyborn Chibonga, gave their views on climate change and biotechnology.

In her blogpost, Farmers say they need biotechnology in face of climate change, Teresa Avila of the MU Earth, outlines these viewpoints here:
“Argentinean farmer Santiago del Sola, who works in the fertile Las Pampas region, has also seen weather patterns shifting…Such extreme swings in weather - arguably influenced by a shifting climate - make it hard for any farmer.

All five farmers championed genetically modified crops, also known as GM crops or GMOs, to deal with the effects of climate change. Cruz and Kenyan farmer Gilbert Arap Bor agreed that they can reduce their water consumption by using drought-resistant crops. Cruz added that biotechnology allows her to use less fuel, herbicide and insecticide.

The voices against biotechnology, the farmers said, are not practical. ‘GM crops have benefitted millions of farmers, including myself,’ Indian farmer V.K. Ravichandran said. ‘We cannot afford to reject GMOs on emotional grounds.’

“The farmers also discussed the government’s role in regulating biotechnology. ‘Government needs to allow farmers to decide for themselves whether to use GMOs, and these decisions must be based in science,’ Cruz said.  ‘Europe has no idea what farming is,’ she said. Applause followed, reflecting the attitudes of those in attendance. De Solar said, ‘people who distrust GMOs should keep that belief to themselves and not push government to limit GMO use’.”