Egg Industry News and Commentary

  —  Mar 8

 
CHICAGO INSTITUTE OF FOOD TECHNOLOGISTS HOSTS DEBATE ON GMOS

    

In mid-February, the Chicago Section of the Institute of Food Technologists hosted a debate on the merits of GM foods.  More than 170 Chicago-area food industry professionals attended, attesting to the significance of the topic.

According to a report in the IFT Weekly Newsletter, Dr. Benjamin Howard, Laboratory Director at Certified Laboratories noted that a pre-debate survey showed that two-thirds of the attendees were in favor of GM and slightly more believed that GM ingredients are ‘always or mostly safe’.  Approximately half of the respondents expressed the opinion that safety data relating to GM foods is not readily available to the public and private sectors to facilitate informed choice.

  

Dr. Sonny Gilbert Project Scientist with Cofactor Genomics firmly believes, as does much of the scientific community, that GMs are innocuous with respect to safety and are beneficial in terms of sustainability.  It is an undeniable reality that the FDA has approved the consumption of GM foods for two decades and with almost half a billion acres of GM crops planted worldwide in 2014.

Gilbert noted that GMs have become controversial because of lack of relevant information suitable for consumers.  Outstanding and beneficial innovations include bananas and rice modified to express high carotene content to avert blindness and pest-resistant crops which reduce the use of insecticides.

It is apparent that the Chicago section of the Institute of Food Technologists was not able to obtain a reputable scientist to debate from the opposing side.  Joel Warady, Sales and Marketing Officer of Enjoy Life Foods apparently delivered a message relating to consumer needs and the apparent benefits of his Company’s products and by extension, all GM-free foods.  Echoing the sentiments of opponents of GM technology, Warady stated, “I don’t know that GMOs are bad but I will challenge anyone who says they are good because there isn’t enough evidence”.  Despite being a partisan for non-GM, Warady clearly supported the contentions of Dr. Gilbert that consumers are under-informed.

Previously both EGG-CITE and CHICK-CITE have commented on the apparent inability of the major biotechnology companies to mount effective pro-GM campaigns using social media and mainstream print and video.  If companies profiting from GMO technology wish to expand their markets, they will have to become more innovative and consumer-oriented. The customers of biotechnology companies are effectively food manufacturers and consumers not farmers which appears to be the focus of their misdirected perspective. 

To dispel misinformation and engender confidence in GMOs, campaigns should involve a substantial investment in publicity, the use of spokespersons representing sports and entertainment and above all should be directed to millennials and their following generation.