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What Happens When A Farmer Attends a Food Science Convention?

August 31, 2018
The story could start with a farmer and a food scientist walk into a bar...or a restaurant...or a grocery store...or the Food Expo at IFT18: A Matter of Science and Food. Although they stand at opposite ends of the food chain, their topic of conversation is food — sustainability, security, waste and innovation.

GMO Answers volunteer expert and farmer Katie Pratt joined GMO Answers at their booth during the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Convention in Chicago in July. Katie and her husband, Andy, are seventh generation farmers raising farm kids, corn, soybeans, and seed corn with Andy’s family in north central Illinois.

She talked to many food scientists, nutritionists, technologists, and marketing professionals. During the show, Katie did a Facebook Live video for GMO Answers, with some initial thoughts about her conversations and engagements.

After the show, and with some time to look back and reflect on her experience, she wrote a blog post for the GMO Answers Medium page. Her main theme: Farmers, scientists and researchers have a message for you: GMOs are safe! But this message is getting muddled due to a lack in science literacy.

Her three main takeaways:

  • Food scientists support science. The majority of the people who stopped at the GMO Answers booth did so to say, “Thanks for being here. We need people talking about GMOs, about science.”

  • Crafting a scientific message that can be — should be — heard by their marketing counterparts is a great source of frustration for food scientists.

  • The discussion of sustainability, food insecurity and food waste are everywhere! From small-town USA to the developing world, our planet is hungry and our ability to understand science affects our ability to innovate, to discover solutions to very timely problems.

Ultimately, science literacy must make a comeback in our schools, in our universities, in our daily conversations. Because when we understand the world around us, be it a field, a pasture, a laboratory or a bar, our ability to do better grows.

For more about GMOs, please visit the GMO Answers website.