What’s for dinner? For many people around the world, they want to know far more than just what’s on their plates. They want to know how it got there and who and what was involved. And that “what” often means whether genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are on the menu. To help consumers answer these questions, the agricultural biotechnology companies that develop GM seeds recently launched the GMO Answers website.
Through a public Q&A section and other resources, the easy-to-access public website provides information on GMOs, their background, use in agriculture, and research and data.
“From the basics of what GMOs are and how they are used to peer-reviewed scientific studies and data, GMO Answers is a one-stop shop,” said Andrew Walmsley, American Farm Bureau Federation biotechnology specialist.
The public Q&A section is a unique feature of the site, and one that the companies involved are excited for consumers to use.
“GMOs are a growing topic of discussion today, with a wide range of questions and emotions,” said Cathleen Enright, Ph.D., spokesperson for GMO Answers. “Food is personal, so we want to open the door for personal discussions. We recognize we haven’t done the best job communicating about GMOs-what they are, how they are developed, food safety information-the science, data and processes. We want people to join us and ask their tough questions. Be skeptical. Evaluate the information and decide for yourself. We look forward to an open conversation.”
Among those ready to answer any and all GMO-related questions are farmers, scientists, academics, and food safety and health experts. The questions currently trending on the site are related to labeling of GMO products, the research behind the safety of GMOs and what would happen if GMO crops mixed with non-GMO varieties.
As the public discussion on GMOs continues, the scientists who develop biotech seeds, along with farmers who grow them, want to make information about GMOs easier to find and understand.
“Having grown up on a small farm and spent much of my life in academia I can relate to the issues on several levels. I’ve offered to address questions submitted to GMO Answers openly, based on my personal insights, experience and research,” said Martina Newell-McGloughlin, director of the International Biotechnology Program at University of California-Davis. “I know that many of my colleagues have committed to do the same because we feel consumers have every right to ask questions about how their food is grown, and they deserve an open and honest response so that they can make informed decisions.”
With a commitment to openness and access to information, GMO Answers is based on five core principles:
- Respecting people around the world and their right to choose healthy food products that are best for themselves and their families.
- Welcoming and answering questions on all GMO topics.
- Making GMO information, research and data easy to access and evaluate and supporting safety testing of GM products, including allowing independent safety testing of our products by validated science-based methods.
- Supporting farmers as they work to grow crops using precious resources more efficiently, with less impact on the environment and producing safe, nutritious food and feed products.
- Respecting farmers’ rights to choose the seeds that are best for their farms, businesses and communities and providing seed choices that include non-GM seeds based on market demands.
“As GMOs are tools that help farmers produce more food using less water and fewer pesticides, this website is a tool for parents who want to know more about what they’re feeding their families, or young adults who want to learn about all the options biotechnology provides them as they’re making their abundant food choices,” Walmsley said.
GMO Answers is produced by the members of The Council for Biotechnology Information, which includes BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences LLC, DuPont, Monsanto Company and Syngenta. AFBF is a supporting partner of GMO Answers.