Biotech Crops: Fighting Fear Fanatics

And the battle rages on. Not too many months ago (in February, to be exact), I wrote a column where I described how I believed the anti-biotech crop fight was beginning to turn in the pro camp’s favor. For evidence of this turn, I cited the defeat of California’s biotech crop labeling proposal (Proposition 37) by popular vote, the acceptance of biotech cotton among Chinese growers and long-time critic Mark Lyons’ about face on the issue of biotech crop use.

“Maybe now, agriculture can go back to doing what it does best — feeding a growing world population instead of consistently fighting irrational fears,” I said back then.

But I apparently spoke too soon. Since that time, there has a been a host of negative biotech crop news, much of it gleefully touted by the anti-biotech camp. This included the discovery of biotech wheat in a single Oregon wheat field (which is still an unsolved mystery, according to USDA researchers), the burning of biotech crop test fields in the U.S. and overseas and the announcement that Monsanto intended to drop its requests to grow new biotech crops in the European Union “due to the lack of commercial prospects there.”

Accompanying each of these stories online have been comments from readers. On most, anti-biotech have outnumbered those by industry defenders by a wide margin. Worse still, many of these have reiterated the often repeated claim that “large agricultural profiteers are trying to poison unsuspecting regular folks with unproven (or unholy) products.”

How did this latest negative wave of biotech crop stories come about? In a word, the pro-biotech crop camp relaxed. With the battle wins in California and China under its belt, the biotech crop industry went back to putting out reports on the scientific safety of their products.

This misses the point, however, of today’s biotech crop debate. Because biotech crop supporters can cite volumes of information on the scientific safety of biotech crops, the anti camp has largely bypassed this argument. Instead, they have engaged in a focused campaign aimed at raising fear and misinformation among the masses. Of course, this ties into a person’s basic survival instinct to avoid anything that seems like it might be a threat to their or their family’s well-being.

As one reader pointed out, there are four groups in the biotech crop debate — the informed, the uninformed, the casually informed and the highly organized/committed anti-activists.

Trying to reach this last group is virtually impossible. To them, fighting against the spread of biotech crops is akin to a religious view. And the informed know. Instead, getting the true facts on biotech crops out to the uninformed and casually informed while addressing their fears will be the key to ultimately winning this fight.

To paraphrase Franklin D. Roose­velt: “The only thing we have to fear is highly organized/committed anti-biotech crop activists themselves.”

Topics:

Leave a Reply

3 comments on “Biotech Crops: Fighting Fear Fanatics

  1. When the facts don't support your cause then make a fear based argument. Works with some people every single time that it is tried.

  2. Fears can be well justified. It's not like fighting someone with a religious view. It fighting against scientists who care about our future generations, farmers and the environment. Safety of consuming genetically engineered organisms is just a small part of the many issues of ge organisms. Just take a look in the Aug 29th issue. What's the purpose of Bt corn? http://tinyurl.com/k7ftrwm Also you did not paraphrase FDR, you completely changed his quote.

  3. This article was done in a vacuum. You speak of the "Fear Fanatics" not leaving agriculture. Has much of the complaints not come from farmers in the US, Canada, India and the rest of the world? When one of these parasitic mercantile corporations actually managed to patent natural broccoli through the EU parliament, how is it okay to defend a group which not only wants to control the world's food supply through patents, but also what you grow in your garden, and what an organic farmer (who has nothing to do with the biotech industry) grows and sells? Do you have any proof that the poisons which the chemical companies pump out is safe? What relevance do chemical companies have to agriculture, other than the sale of pesticides and genetically modifying food to contain pesticides? Where does safety come in when the only aim is profit of pesticides through the poisoning of food, or did the "Fear Fanatics" not specify the process of genetic modification enough yet?

Eric Sfiligoj Stories

Eric SfiligojWar And Green Peace
October 11, 2014
A one-time member of Green Peace recently explained why he left the organization after 15 years. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Resurgence Of Crop Protection
August 4, 2014
Plenty of new offerings over the next few years should see a rebirth for the crop protection products category in terms of market share. Read More
Eric SfiligojA Whole New Precision Ag World
June 2, 2014
Excitement and technology developments could make 2014 a year to remember for precision ag. Read More
Eric SfiligojOngoing State Biotech Crop Labeling Laws Could Receive Federal Stop Sign
May 19, 2014
Proposed legislation in Congress might prevent states from passing biotech crop labeling laws. Read More

Trending Articles

Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
The deadline to vote for the 2014 CropLife IRON Product of the Year is October 31. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More

Latest News

CropLife 100ValueAct Buys Stake In Fertilizer Dealer Agrium
October 30, 2014
ValueAct has bought 8.2 million shares in Calgary, Alberta-based Agrium, making them the second largest investor in the fertilizer dealer. Read More
InsecticidesNew Research Study Shows The Value Of Neonics
October 29, 2014
The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S. and Canada. Read More
StewardshipUSDA To Provide $4 Million For Honey Bee Habitat
October 29, 2014
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that more than $4 million in technical and financial assistance will be provided to Read More
Crop InputsValent Launches New Low VOC ProGibb LV Plus Plant Growt…
October 29, 2014
ProGibb LV Plus PGR is a high-potency, liquid gibberellic acid formulation designed to comply with California’s new air quality standards for high volatile organic compound agricultural products. Read More
Crop InputsBayer CropScience Acquires Certain DuPont Crop Protecti…
October 29, 2014
Bayer CropScience and DuPont Crop Protection have signed an agreement for Bayer to purchase certain DuPont Crop Protection Land Management assets in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. Read More
ManagementWest Central Names New President
October 29, 2014
West Central’s board of directors have announced their unanimous decision to name Milan Kucerak President and CEO-elect following Jeff Stroburg’s retirement at the end of the fiscal year. Read More
InsecticidesValent U.S.A., MGK Form Marketing Agreement
October 24, 2014
Valent has formed an agreement with Minneapolis-based MGK to manage the marketing and sales of MGK’s crop protection line of insect control products within the U.S. beginning April 1, 2015. Read More
StewardshipFlorida’s 4R Advocate Keeps Improving
October 24, 2014
Florida farmer Alan Jones uses the 4R principles of nutrient stewardship as the core of his fertility program, which allows him to maximize production and keep costs in check. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Named One Of The World’s Best Multinational …
October 23, 2014
Monsanto ranked No. 8 in the world’s largest annual study of workplace excellence that identifies the top 25 best multinational companies in terms of workplace culture. Read More
Crop InputsArysta Hires Former Agri-Chem, CPS Employee For Delta S…
October 23, 2014
New Territory Sales Manager Mark Peel’s primary role will focus on working with growers regarding fungicides in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Announces Appointments In Plant Food Division
October 22, 2014
GROWMARK, Inc. has announced the three key staff changes in its Plant Food Division. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Appoints New VP Of Finance And Risk Management
October 22, 2014
Wade Mittelstadt has been named GROWMARK Vice President, Financial and Risk Mangement, effective December 1, 2014. Read More
FungicidesEPA Approves BASF In-Furrow Corn Fungicide
October 22, 2014
Field trials show Xanthion In-furrow fungicide provides more rapid emergence, extended residual control and improved seedling health than untreated crops. Read More
EquipmentAgraScout App Available At No Cost To Universities
October 21, 2014
AgraScout, a fast and easy to use mobile crop scouting app, is now available at no cost to University students, Read More
LegislationNew Farm Bill Program To Provide Relief To Farmers Affe…
October 21, 2014
The USDA has implemented a new Farm Bill initiative that will provide relief to farmers affected by severe weather, including drought. Read More
ManagementGreenfield Scholars Program Aims To Sustain Agronomy Wo…
October 21, 2014
The program encourages talented students to study agronomy, crop and soil sciences while cultivating networks to develop the necessary workforce to sustain the profession. Read More
Paul SchrimpfPrecision Ag: Taking It To The Hill
October 21, 2014
A new coalition took the good news message of precision agriculture to Washington, DC, last month. Read More
ManagementUSDA Awards $18 Million In Small Business Research Gran…
October 21, 2014
The grants will provide high quality, advanced research and development that will lead to technological innovations and solutions for American agriculture. Read More