What is in this article?:
The agriculture industry needs to do a better job of educating the public about the challenges of feeding a growing population and the necessity of using both traditional methods and new technology to achieve sustainable food production.
Ag industry companies are aggressive about aricultural research, but government investment in public institutions is a good investment, says Monsanto President and COO Brett Begemann.
Explaining role of technology
And explaining how technology—including biotechnology, global positioning system agriculture, and other innovations—plays a crucial role in sustainability must be an industry priority. “We have to engage in a broader conversation about agriculture. We have to provide more information to consumers.”
Begemann said all stakeholders must be a part of that conversation. That includes farmers, associations, industry and consumers. “It’s reasonable to assume that people want facts.”
The truth, however, often becomes muddled with misinformation, rumor and innuendo that restrict fair information exchanges. The GMO issue is a case in point.
Following Begemann’s prepared remarks to the Friday Group, a Q&A session elicited a query about the safety of GMO crops.
“A lot of stuff about GMOs is simply not true,” Begemann responded. “Nearly 2,000 studies performed on biotechnology products show they are perfectly safe and no different than conventional food.”
In the earlier interview, Begemann said the studies include peer reviews, “not sponsored by biotech companies.” With some 20 years of biotech products in the marketplace and with all those studies, Begemann said “not one bellyache” has been attributed to GMOs.
The industry, he added, has to do a better job of getting that information to the public. “If we don’t engage in that dialogue, why would we think that attitudes will change? Most people are rational and intelligent,” he said, and willing to examine facts.
“We’re doing better. We are not where we want to be, but I think we’re making a difference. We continue to look for ways to do things better. Even in recent history we’ve seen the world under-supplied with food.”
For someone who works in the agriculture industry, the thought of anyone being hungry is difficult to imagine, he says.