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

Top 100 Articles

CropLife 100CHS: Driving Momentum To Help Farmer-Owners Grow
December 11, 2014
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, must capture new opportunities to Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT, Verdesian Ink Distribution Agreement
December 9, 2014
The agreement grants BRANDT the exclusive right to sell and market Verdesian’s patented Steric chemistry in the Turf and Ornamental and eastern U.S. ag markets under the BRANDT Reaction product line name. Read More
CropLife 100CropLife 100: The Colors Of Custom Application
December 5, 2014
Although many color spray rigs are in the yards of the nation’s top ag retailers, the majority of them still come in only a few shades. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Invests In Meridian Agriculture Distribution
December 4, 2014
Meridian will provide retailers with supplier-branded products and numerous opportunities to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Read More
CropLife 100CropLife 100: Entering A New Seed Era
December 4, 2014
The seed category has been re-vitalized during the past few years, and more good news (and varieties) are headed the industry’s way in 2015. Read More
CropLife 100CropLife 100: The Depressed State Of Fertilizer
December 3, 2014
Following downright giddy growth earlier this decade, fertilizer sales have fallen back down to earth the past two years. Read More

Latest News

Seed/BiotechKaren Arthur Joins AgriThority As Seed Treatment Produc…
December 19, 2014
Prior to joining AgriThority, Arthur directed research and development programs, overseeing laboratory and field research, to build the Valent U.S.A. seed treatment portfolio. Read More
EquipmentJohn Deere To Sell Crop Insurance Business
December 19, 2014
Deere & Co. has reached a definitive agreement to sell its crop insurance business, subject to regulatory approval, to Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. of Iowa. Read More
Crop InputsNufarm Fills Regulatory VP Position
December 18, 2014
Nufarm announced today that Rob Schwehr has been promoted to the position of Vice President of Innovation & Regulatory Affairs for Nufarm Americas. Read More
Seed/BiotechReport: China Approves Viptera Corn, U.S. Officials Awa…
December 17, 2014
Chinese authorities have informed some agriculture industry officials the government has approved U.S. imports of a type of genetically modified corn developed by Syngenta. Read More
FertilizerMonty’s Plant Food Brings In New Sales Rep
December 16, 2014
Monty's Plant Food Company has hired Warren Kearns as its newest Sales Representative for the South Carolina area. Read More
EquipmentHagie Wins 2014 CropLife IRON Product Of The Year Award
December 15, 2014
The self-propelled sprayer maker has a hit on its hands with the new STS Series model. Read More
Syngenta
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Sees China Approving Contentious GMO Corn Soon
December 15, 2014
Syngenta will make an announcement when it receives official documentation from China that Agrisure Viptera corn, known as MIR 162, has been cleared for import. Read More
Crop InputsVerdesian Life Sciences Names Vice President Of Communi…
December 15, 2014
Amy Bugg will oversee the execution of all promotional strategies for the corporate brand and the complete product portfolio. Read More
StewardshipFarmers, Retailers Attend 4R Certification 4U Workshop
December 15, 2014
More than 160 farmers and ag retailer attended the “4R Certification 4U” workshop December 12 to learn more about the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship, water quality research in the area and cost-sharing opportunities. Read More
Matt Hopkins10 Best New Agriculture Apps For 2015
December 15, 2014
These new agriculture apps are certain to help ag professionals do their jobs more efficiently in 2015 and beyond. Read More
ManagementARA Learnings, Retail Buying Intentions: Welcome To Cro…
December 12, 2014
This informal video program puts news and events effecting retailers into context, and features Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Herbicide-Tolerant Technology Closer To Commer…
December 12, 2014
The final EIS moves Monsanto one step closer to the introduction of Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton and Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, paving the way to provide access to dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. Read More
Seed/BiotechUSDA Issues Final Environmental Impact Statement On Her…
December 12, 2014
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is issuing a final environmental impact statement on varieties of cotton and soybeans that have been genetically engineered for resistance to several herbicides, including the one known as dicamba. Read More
CropLife 100CHS: Driving Momentum To Help Farmer-Owners Grow
December 11, 2014
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, must capture new opportunities to Read More
LegislationARA Applauds CFATS Passage Prior To Holiday Adjournment
December 11, 2014
The streamlined bill provides a four-year authorization of the CFATS program and guidance to DHS on key issues of chemical facility security Read More
Seed/BiotechBayer CropScience’s ILeVO Approved By EPA
December 11, 2014
EPA has approved ILeVO, the only seed treatment that protects the root system against infections caused by the Sudden Death Syndrome fungus and has activity against dangerous nematodes. Read More
Biologicals in Emerging Markets Map.
Crop InputsBiocontrols Could Quadruple By 2025; Will Regulators Pl…
December 11, 2014
The European experience with GMOs offers caution — and a promise — for biologicals. Read More
Crop InputsBASF Donates $75,000 To Feeding America
December 10, 2014
The donation will support Feeding America’s National Produce Program, an initiative that helps with planning, transportation and logistics to ensure fresh produce deliveries to the 200 member food banks around the country. Read More