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Corn+Soybean Digest

Think Different: Food is emotional

In our October issue, my Editor’s column “Crazy GMO debates” touted the real science behind the safety of GMOs in the food we’ve consumed for more than 17 years. The responses I received ranged from knowledge appreciation to healthy skepticism to pointed pro-GMO accusations from anti-GMO activists.

Now before I wrote the piece I fully understood that leading with science on this issue can be dangerous, especially when non-GMO activists lead with emotion and their skewed version of science. And changing their mind is next to impossible.

The majority who sent their opinion proved that the emotion of food is powerful – beyond science. Therein lies the rub. Consumer views don’t have to be science based. In fact values, beliefs or emotions often drive food decisions, as well as some who read labels.

Yes I can hear you saying, well, dammit, we make farm decisions everyday backed by trusted science, so why can’t consumers listen to us. Well, they’re the customer, and a certain percentage of them want more transparency. And that’s fine.

So, perhaps the best way to try to connect is to simply listen and relate your personal stories of being both a farmer and a consumer. We do eat the same food, and we drink rural well water so we want the safest products. What if consumers only had 40 chances in a lifetime to grow and sell products that could be lost to weather and pests (like a farmer), would they risk losing millions of dollars a year on unsafe grains and practices, especially when you know millions of people are counting on food to survive? No. They wouldn’t.

One example of rural/urban story telling comes from fellow journalist and Illinois farm mom Holly Spangler, who writes an awesome blog for our sister publication, Prairie Farmer. She shares stories of urban moms going rural, part of a great program that brings Chicago moms to farms for show and tell. Learn from these stories.

If only these real stories could help consumers understand that there really is no need to label most foods on the shelves. What would be the point of most food packages on grocery shelves stating, “This product contains 0.04% of biotech soybeans, analyzed and deemed safe by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, Health Canada, United States Department of Agriculture, European Commission Joint Research Center, and the National Academy of Sciences?”

Consumers already have a choice without any label changes. They can buy organic. While we may not change behaviors, perhaps our stories and daily experiences can calm some fears and hope for greater understanding.

I sincerely thank you for reading, for viewing more valuable content on, for subscribing to our newsletters, and for being willing to Think Different.

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