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

Corn
Eric SfiligojThe Mood From Madison? In A Holding Pattern
January 16, 2017
Last week, I had the chance to attend the annual Wisconsin AgriBusiness Classic show in Madison, WI. It’s been a Read More
Donald Trump
Eric SfiligojTrump’s New Ag Secretary Coming Soon?
January 9, 2017
As agricultural experts are quick to point out, incoming President Donald Trump largely has the nation’s growers to thank for Read More
Eric SfiligojAgriculture In 2017: Attack Of The Clone?
January 1, 2017
Happy New Year, everyone! At least, I hope so. When 2017 was fast approaching, many people asked me how I Read More
Eric SfiligojA Year To Remember In Agriculture
December 21, 2016
Sometimes, it’s simply amazing how much the world can change in less than one year. I thought about this fact Read More
Trending Articles
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls And Bears Impacting This Year’s Marketplace
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMissouri Governor Meets With Bayer CEO To Discuss Monsanto Merger
November 21, 2016
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon visited Bayer AG global headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, on November 18 to discuss the proposed Bayer-Monsanto Read More
Latest News
Corn
Eric SfiligojThe Mood From Madison? In A Holding Pattern
January 16, 2017
Last week, I had the chance to attend the annual Wisconsin AgriBusiness Classic show in Madison, WI. It’s been a Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsAccenture Helps Syngenta Transform Its Global Logistics
January 13, 2017
Syngenta, a leading agriculture company, has collaborated with Accenture to design and implement a new digital logistics operating model across Read More
Fall Creek Seth Harden The Nature Conservancy
StewardshipLocal Farmers’ Watershed Initiative: Continuous Improve…
January 13, 2017
The goal in the Big Pine Watershed Project is to more intentionally do what local farmers and responsible ag retailers Read More
HerbicidesEPA Expands Enlist Duo Herbicide Registration To 34 Sta…
January 13, 2017
The U.S. EPA has expanded the geography for application of Enlist Duo herbicide from 15 to 34 states. This means Read More
Olson Ag Enterprise
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires Nebraska Seed Retailer
January 13, 2017
Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed and nutritional Read More
ManagementDeere-Precision Planting Update and the Ag Secretary Wa…
January 12, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj provide the latest on the court date for John Deere/Precision Planting and the quest Read More
Monsanto sign
Seed/BiotechMonsanto, NRGene Form Agreement For Big Data Genomic An…
January 12, 2017
Monsanto Co. and NRGene have announced that the companies have reached a non-exclusive, multi-year global licensing agreement on NRGene’s genome-analysis Read More
AGCO Custom applicator
SprayersAGCO, Asmark Institute To Offer Training For Beginning …
January 11, 2017
AGCO Corp. and the Asmark Institute are collaborating to offer a new training program dedicated to educating and developing custom Read More
ManagementAg Land Values In Limbo In 2017
January 10, 2017
Several factors will come into play in 2017 that will determine the direction of land values. Randy Dickhut, senior vice Read More
Industry NewsPattison Agriculture Positioned To Be Leading Canadian …
January 10, 2017
Pattison Agriculture Limited (Pattison Agriculture), a division of The Jim Pattison Group (the Pattison Group), has announced the merger of Read More
Fertilizer Tender close-up
MicronutrientsHow Micronutrients Fit Into 2017 Fertility Plans
January 10, 2017
Where do micronutrients stand going forward in fertility plans? For one thing, Tim Mundorf, Field Representative with Midwest Laboratories, says Read More
Fertilizer application
State of the IndustryCautious Optimism On Fertilizer In 2017
January 10, 2017
What kind of fertilizer rates are growers and retailers looking at in 2017 and beyond? According to stakeholders CropLife magazine Read More
Asmus Farm Supply crop protection products in storage
State of the IndustryCrop Protection Products Market: Complexity Begets Oppo…
January 10, 2017
While other key market segments in agriculture continue to see tumultuous shifts in sales volumes going forward (large equipment sales are Read More
RoGator RG1300B AGCO
Sprayers10 Sprayers That Will Showcase The Latest Application T…
January 10, 2017
Sprayer manufacturers continue to step up their games with the latest in application technology. From direct injection systems and four-wheel Read More
Soybean Field
FungicidesGrowers Report Yield Boost, Extended Residual Disease C…
January 9, 2017
With the new growing season around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about inputs for 2017. As growers weigh Read More
Donald Trump
Eric SfiligojTrump’s New Ag Secretary Coming Soon?
January 9, 2017
As agricultural experts are quick to point out, incoming President Donald Trump largely has the nation’s growers to thank for Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Crop InputsThe Path Ahead For Mergers & Acquisitions In Agricu…
January 9, 2017
Bayer AG’s proposed $66 billion takeover of Monsanto would create, by far, the industry giant capturing more than a quarter Read More
Jeff Troike Ceres Solutions
CropLife 100Troike Named CEO Of Newly Formed Ceres Solutions Cooper…
January 6, 2017
Jeff Troike has been named President and CEO of the newly formed agribusiness known as Ceres Solutions Cooperative. Ceres Solutions Read More