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Most Farmers Still in Denial About Consumers' Desire for GMO Labeling and Safety Testing

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

Genetically modified (GM) seed is the cornerstone of modern crop production, boosting corn and soybean yields and making it possible to feed a rapidly multiplying global population, but clouds loom on the horizon.

While most farmers decide to raise GM or conventional crops by weighing the financial pluses and minuses of each option, dollars and cents are not the lens through which the general public views biotechnology.

Beth Johnson, founder of Food Directions LLC, a government relations firm specializing in food policy, in Washington, D.C., says a significant portion of consumers are, at best, apprehensive about the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food. Many want to eliminate GMOs use altogether.

Johnson, who spoke on the topic of labeling legislation and its potential impact on the future use of genetic modifications during an AgriGold specialty products meeting in June, says that education is key.

"Most consumers don't understand the science, they don't understand agriculture; they just react," she says.

Johnson's perspective is reinforced by data compiled by several national consumer surveys done by mainstream media, including "CBS News" and The Washington Post. Their surveys show that more than 90% of consumers want to see labeling laws enacted for food products containing GM traits.

The lack of consumer knowledge about modern-day farming and the benefits offered by biotechnology is a significant problem for the entire agricultural industry, says Jack Lehr, science director for The Heartland Institute, a public policy think tank based in Chicago.

"We are facing a high level of public ignorance, negativity, fear and lies related to agriculture that must be overcome," he says.      
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