Farmers Get a Move On for GMOs

Wednesday, May 6, 2015 - 1:57pm

Kari Barbic

AFBF Media Specialist

When it comes to GMOs, there’s no shortage of misinformation. For too long, activists armed with non-scientific rhetoric have led the debate. With a rising number of companies like Chipotle trying to cash in on the fears surrounding GMOs, the facts get trampled by marketing campaigns.

The real story on GMOs is one of ingenuity and environmental responsibility, and that’s the story farmers need to tell. With the launch of the new GetaMoveOn website, Farm Bureau is providing farmers and ranchers with tools to share their story of progress and innovation.

Thanks to advances in biotechnology, farmers and ranchers are growing more food using less water, fuel and pesticides. American farmers are doing their part to reduce their environmental footprint, from decreasing runoff to lowering greenhouse gas emissions. For example, farmers have cut their fuel use from five gallons per acre to just one gallon per acre, largely because GM crops require little to no tillage. What would this kind of improvement look like off the farm? Well, the environmental benefits of the global use of GMOs in 2012 alone were equivalent to removing 11.9 million cars from the road for one year.

You don’t have to sell farmers on the value of GMOs though. They know the benefits and have been reaping them for nearly two decades. But if activists continue to spread fear instead of facts, it could get harder for farmers to use these valuable tools. The recent push for mandatory GMO labeling misleads consumers about food safety and could add unnecessary costs for everyone. Farmers and consumers alike stand to lose out on the benefits these crops have brought.  

While science backs up the safety of GM crops, consumers still have a right to know what’s in their food. But they deserve the facts, not marketing gimmicks. The Food and Drug Administration has a long and respected history of setting guidelines for how to provide safety and nutrition information. GMOs fall under these same guidelines, and voluntary labels provide additional options for consumers who prefer to purchase non-GMO products. But inconsistency with voluntary labels and the push for mandatory labeling are bringing more confusion than clarity.

Consumers need consistent and accurate information to answer questions they may have about their food. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act would meet that need by creating national standards for GMO labeling. If Congress passes the bill, it would also create a voluntary labeling program, run by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service and similar to the agency’s certified organic program. Consumers benefit from a variety of options at their local markets and need accurate information about their food. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act can provide both.

Farmers and ranchers know what’s at stake if we move backward from the advances technology has brought to agriculture. But members of Congress need the facts as well. They need to hear from the people working with GMOs every day: The farmers and ranchers working to grow the safest and most affordable food possible.

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