The Lost Crusade To Convince The Anti-Biotech Camp

When I first started my career in trade journalism, some of the best advice I received was to avoid the topic of religion in my writing. “People’s views on this are very ingrained and you won’t be able to convince them any differently,” said my first editor. “So don’t even try.”

Of course, this “deeply ingrained” attitude could apply to the opponents of biotechnology as well. To them, traditional/organic crops are from God and biotech crops are from the devil. No debate, no middle ground.

Now for several years, I’ve heard from industry friends that the ongoing effort to convince the public that biotech crops are safe should extend to the anti-biotech camps, too. But I think biotech opponents are as entrenched in their views as believers in a particular faith. Thus, supporters don’t have a prayer of convincing them otherwise.

And I’m not alone in this view. Consider this blog comment from Pamela Ron­ald, a professor of plant pathology at the University of California, Davis: “Many progressive advocacy groups disregard, reject or ignore the decades of scientific studies demonstrating the safety and wide-reaching benefits of genetically-engineered crops.”

For proof, consider these examples.

Many years ago, I remember writing about Golden Rice. This variety of rice was specifically genetically-engineered to contain Vitamin A. It was to be distributed in less-developed countries to combat blindness in children, who might otherwise not obtain regular Vitamin A in their diets. In my book, this puts Golden Rice in the same “good-for-you” category as vitamin-fortified milk or fluorinated water.

However, because Golden Rice is a biotech crop, opponents around the world have kept it from entering the market. In fact, just last year, protesters ripped up a test field of Golden Rice in the Philippines, blind children around the world be damned.

A more recent example comes from Hawaii. Biotech opponents on the Big Island have gotten legislators to pass a ban on the use of any biotech crops there. However, this overlooks the fact that biotech crops are already there — in the form of the Rainbow papaya. When a virus threatened to wipe out the island’s papaya growers during the 1990s, only the biotech engineered Rainbow was immune. Today, more than 20 million pounds of the papayas harvested in the U.S. are Rainbows.

Luckily, the Rainbow was exempted from the biotech ban, as long as growers registered with the county and paid an annual $100 fee. But as the grower association head put it after the legislation was passed: “They’re treating us like we’re criminals.”

It’s clear that if these biotech crop examples aren’t good enough for critics — be it helping blind children or saving Hawaii’s papaya industry — nothing with a biotech label on it ever will be in their eyes. It’s time to stop trying to convince these anti-biotech believers that their view are wrong and focus on getting the true positive biotech message to everyone else instead. Amen.

Leave a Reply

Eric Sfiligoj Stories

TMX-2050 In-Cab Display Launch Run Screen
Eric SfiligojPrecision Ag Could Shine In Increased Spotlight On Agriculture
August 24, 2015
By any measure, 2015 is turning into one of the most challenging years agriculture has ever experienced. All throughout good Read More
Eric SfiligojAn Interesting Water Issue On The West Coast
August 17, 2015
A few weeks ago at the 2015 Environmental Respect Awards event in Wilmington, DE, one of the speakers talked about Read More
Green Roof
Eric SfiligojEnvironmental Respect: Going Green In The Middle Of Philadelphia
August 10, 2015
During the recent 2015 Environmental Respect Awards event, sponsored by DuPont Crop Protection, winners were treated to a day-long tour Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Cocktail Age Of Herbicides
July 20, 2015
An old saying claims that in many difficult situations, “two heads are better than one.” In the crop protection products Read More
Top 100 Articles
Crop InputsLand ‘O Lakes, United Suppliers Finalize Merger
August 24, 2015
According to a press release on August 24, owners of United Suppliers, Inc. and members of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “have Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Iowa Cooperatives To Explore Unification
August 19, 2015
The boards of directors at two of Iowa’s leading farmer-owned cooperatives yesterday signed a letter of intent to study the Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Hosting Drone Flight This Friday
August 3, 2015
Southern States Cooperative — No. 9 on the CropLife 100 — is hosting an FAA-approved drone demonstration at Grandview Farms Read More
CropLife 100Aligned Ag Distributors Adds Four New Owners
July 30, 2015
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC has announced the addition of four new customer/owners to Franklin Holding Co. LLC. They are: The Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Purchases California-Based Specialty Crops Retailer
July 20, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has successfully acquired California-based NH3 Service Co.  Operating as part of Pinnacle’s Performance Agriculture brand, the new locations Read More
Asmus Farm Supply liquid fertilizer facility features 20,000 square feet
CropLife 100Slideshow: Asmus Farm Supply Shows Off Its New Liquid Fertilizer Facility
July 15, 2015
Asmus Farm Supply, Rake, IA, recently added a new liquid fertilizer facility to its company operations. The new liquid fertilizer Read More
Latest News
Crop InputsNFU: Monsanto Decision To Withdraw Syngenta Bid ‘…
August 26, 2015
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said the organization was very pleased by the news that Monsanto has withdrawn Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto Withdraws Bid For Syngenta
August 26, 2015
Monsanto Co. abandoned its latest effort to acquire Syngenta AG, the world’s top maker of pesticides, after a sweetened bid Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsSyngenta Comments On Monsanto Announcement
August 26, 2015
The Board of Syngenta confirms that it received a verbal proposal from Monsanto to acquire the company at a price Read More
Case IH Patriot 2250 Sprayer
EquipmentHigh-powered Case IH Patriot 2250 Sprayer Pushes Throug…
August 26, 2015
Engineered with more muscle, the new 660-gallon-capacity Patriot 2250 sprayer features best-in-class horsepower, along with the fuel efficiency that comes Read More
Crop InputsLand ‘O Lakes, United Suppliers Finalize Merger
August 24, 2015
According to a press release on August 24, owners of United Suppliers, Inc. and members of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “have Read More
TMX-2050 In-Cab Display Launch Run Screen
Eric SfiligojPrecision Ag Could Shine In Increased Spotlight On Agri…
August 24, 2015
By any measure, 2015 is turning into one of the most challenging years agriculture has ever experienced. All throughout good Read More
ManagementCrop Conditions In Minnesota and Traveling Time
August 21, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiilgoj discuss the crop outlook from a field trip to Minnesota and upcoming travel plans. Read More
HerbicidesREUTERS: Anti-GMO ‘Scientist’ Calls For New…
August 20, 2015
EDITORS NOTE: We feel that it is important to note that there are those that believe one of the lead Read More
Rendering of Syngenta Seedcare Institute expansion
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Announces Seedcare Application And Resource Ce…
August 19, 2015
Syngenta recently announced the Seedcare Application and Resource Center, a collaborative new website designed exclusively for Syngenta Seedcare customers to Read More
Winter Wheat
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Announces Two New Regional Sales Man…
August 19, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced Steve Vining and Phil Reding have each accepted new positions as Regional Sales Managers. Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Iowa Cooperatives To Explore Unification
August 19, 2015
The boards of directors at two of Iowa’s leading farmer-owned cooperatives yesterday signed a letter of intent to study the Read More
Golden Harvest Corn healthy leaves
Industry NewsAligned Ag Distributors Names Vice President, Crop Prot…
August 18, 2015
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC have appointed Warren Hragyil to VP Crop Protection. Hragyil comes to Aligned Ag Distributors LLC with Read More
Industry NewsH.J. Baker Hires Manager For Crop Performance Division
August 18, 2015
H.J. Baker has announced Donald Sutton has joined the company’s Crop Performance Division as a part of the U.S. sales Read More
Radish cover crop taproot
Crop InputsSoil Health Field Days Promote Agricultural Evolution
August 18, 2015
Brent Bible practiced no-till farming and the use of cover crops on his farm in Lafayette, Indiana, but until recently, Read More
Cover Crop on corn
Industry NewsMore Farmers Find Healthy Soil Works For Crops, Bottom …
August 17, 2015
Doug Toussaint’s field was in critical condition — and he was the one killing it, reports Dan Gunderson on MPRNews. Read More
Deere tillage
Crop InputsTillage Practices Have A Direct Correlation To Soil Hea…
August 17, 2015
Many areas, including Michigan, have experienced a heightened sense of awareness of the importance of soil quality, according to Michigan Read More
Eric SfiligojAn Interesting Water Issue On The West Coast
August 17, 2015
A few weeks ago at the 2015 Environmental Respect Awards event in Wilmington, DE, one of the speakers talked about Read More
CF Industries' Donaldsonville, LA, nitrogen complex expansion site.
Industry NewsBleak Outlook Sparks Frenzied Dealmaking In Nitrogen Fe…
August 17, 2015
Sinking crop prices and frenzied output growth by producers have sparked a flurry of dealmaking worth nearly $10 billion in Read More