Tag Archives: consumer awareness

Extra Credit #3- Center for Food Integrity ‘Gene Editing’ – Reflection

On October 9th, after a class discussing precision agriculture technology and data management, we were asked to do a reading from November 2018 on the Center for Food Integrity‘s ‘Gene Editing, Engage in the Conversation’ about speaking to opponents of gene-editing – namely the pre-2013 Mark LYNAS” of the world, anti-GMO supporter.

In the article, it is explained that gene-editing is the key to producing, ‘healthier, more affordable, and abundant food with less land and water-use’ and that consumers are, ‘inherently curious’ about the source of their food and how it’s produced.  It is the job of ‘Ag-vocates’ to explain biotech to those who are curious or misinformed.  It is helpful to provide tangible examples, and real-world visuals and anecdotes to aid in communication.

First, it is helpful to explain what gene-editing is, which is ,’the precise, intentional, and beneficial change of the genetic material of plants and animals used in food production for additional health, nutrition, and environmental benefits.’ Many consumers don’t believe plants even have DNA or contain genes.

When presenting knowledge about the gene-editing technique CRISPr to those consumers, finding experts whose knowledge is easily digestible is key.

Secondly, explain how gene-editing is beneficial to human health, i.e., use common ailments like cancers (leukemia, sickle cell, lung cancer) to frame gene-editing in a positive light.

Third, talk about how gene-editing has evolved with time. The process of cross-breeding plants with trial-and-error is a lengthy procedure that can take decades, while targeted editing is much quicker.

Fourth, find benefits that align with public desires.  Honing in on what consumers want, be it improved animal welfare or protecting the environment can be the key to swaying dissenters to the side of biotech.

Two analogies used to explain gene-editing are, ‘The Blueprint’ and, ‘the Encyclopedia’ to explain how making small aesthetic changes to a house does not make it structurally unsound or uninhabitable and can make it increasingly easy to find where the right resources are located, respectively.

Ultimately values, and not facts, are typically what sway both hearts and minds.

Finally, the article ends with a helpful glossary of terms and online resources, as well as the relatively recently established in 2016, ‘Coalition for Responsible Gene Editing in Agriculture‘. The Coalition is a collection of various entities from different fields who have shared values about gene-editing.


Pros/Cons of GMO Labeling

Recently, there have been many controversies concerning Genetically Modified Organisms – whether they are safe, whether organic is healthier, and/or whether products containing GMOs should be labeled. Although it has been proven that GMOs are safe for consumption and just as healthy as organics, we have not come to a conclusion of whether or not GMOs should be required to be labeled on packaging. However, I believe that the introduction of GMO labeling will cause all sorts of chaos. The average consumer does not know much about GMOs, what they are and how they benefit them. With the GMO label, this will put consumers in a state of panic because they will associate the label with a negative connotation that is often portrayed on social media platforms and through word of mouth. The implementation of GMO labels will also cause a rise in prices due to the need for new and improved labels – which will come at the consumers expense. Although consumers have a right to know how their food is processed, produced and get to them, I don’t believe that it is important for this label. GMOs have been proven by over 200 research studies to be safe for consumption, so why is there a need for this label? Theres not. Overall, this new label mandate would be a disaster that could easily be prevented.