Lori Hallowell

Vice President/Group Leader, Public Relations

Crop technology and feeding a growing world

An analysis recently released to a worldwide audience by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine finds that genetically engineered crops are safe for consumers and do not harm the environment. This is an important study to everyone involved in providing a safe food supply to feed our growing world population. And it is especially important for food and agricultural marketers to share and incorporate its findings in their conversations with the general public.

The report, written by a committee of 20 academic researchers — none of whom are employed by biotechnology, seed or chemical companies — states, “To date, no adverse health effects attributed to genetic engineering have been documented in the human population.”

Genetically engineered crops included in the study “carry modified DNA that differs from parental strains,” the study says. This may include plants genetically modified both by “natural and human-mediated activities.”

Scientists may genetically engineer a plant to make it resistant to herbicides and insecticides or to increase the vitamin or mineral content of the plant’s fruit or grain. For example, scientists have crafted biofortified rice to help combat the vitamin A deficiency that causes blindness in hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

That research project won a 2015 Patents for Humanity award and reinforces what many in the agricultural community have believed to be true — genetically engineered crops enable farmers to better provide a safe and affordable food supply to the world. This study reinforces the need to look beyond emotion and provide our audiences with the facts, validating and strengthening our messaging that farmers are concerned both with the environment and with food safety.

In the end, a more informed public who know what they’re buying is a win for everyone. A savvier public is able to make knowledgeable decisions thanks to the new data added by this report. And those decisions can be based on hard scientific evidence, as opposed to emotion and innuendoes.

This report should be widely shared. Knowing that there are more options, more varieties of safe, affordable food for the public to choose from, is good news that we want to spread. Informed choices are good for agriculture, agrimarketing and the consumer. And it is up to us in the food and agricultural marketing industry to lead those awareness efforts.

In addition to being a vice president/group leader at Bader Rutter, I’m a fourth-generation Nebraska rancher, and I understand the challenges facing the agricultural community. When technology makes sense for me to use on my operation, I study it and decide whether it’s something I can embrace. I think of my customers first, but I never decide what’s best for them. My ranch produces one option of many options for consumers, and I don’t take that for granted.

Industry: Agriculture, Food

Topic: How We Think

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