Where Can The Curious Go To Learn About GMOs? ‘The Farmer’s Daughter’ Weighs In
By Amanda Zaluckyj. Amanda is from Southwest Michigan where her family farms 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans. For 26 years, Amanda and her family ran and supplied a roadside market selling their own fresh fruits and vegetables. After graduating college, Amanda attended law school at Michigan State University College of Law and is now a practicing lawyer. She also “agvocates” at her blog TheFarmersDaughterUSA.com about issues facing modern agriculture.
With so much information available at our fingertips, it’s sometimes hard to know what to trust. Misinformation exists, and there is a crucial need for clear communications about the science and benefits of modern agriculture. We asked GMO Answers expert Amanda Zaluckyj, a biotechnology and agriculture advocate, about where she recommends going to find evidence-based, verified information on these issues.
My family farms just over 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans in Southwest Michigan. We regularly work with agronomists, agricultural companies, and dealers to learn about the latest research, practices, and production methods and work to implement them on our farm. When genetically modified crops first became commercially available for farmers in the 1990’s, we were eager to try them on our farm for the economic and environmental benefits they posed. Since then we continue to use them and now use less overall pesticides, have higher crop yields, and have adopted more sustainable practices like no-till.
That’s one of the reasons why it was so baffling to my family when we started seeing so much anti-GMO rhetoric pop up online, in the media, and on food packaging over the last couple of years. Unfortunately, a lot of the information going around just wasn’t true or accurate. Quite frankly, some of it is just completely bizarre.
Actually, I’m not entirely surprised that people can be confused or not understand modern agricultural production methods. Even though I grew up on the farm and still help out during my spare time, I am always fascinated to learn new information from my dad and brothers. They are always learning new information too. In the months where they aren’t as actively busy on the farm (say, winter), they are attending seminars, researching new products, and reading up on the latest information.
There is always more to learn and try!
So, for people that haven’t set foot on a farm or don’t really have a green thumb, learning more about these practices can be pretty daunting. That’s especially true when it comes to genetically modified crops, because there is just so much bad information out there. It begs the question: where can curious consumers go to find reliable and verifiable information about genetically modified crops?
Here are some of my favorite places to start:
Farmers. This one might seem too obvious, but if you want to know why farmers choose a certain type of production method then you should simply ask them. If you live in a rural area, it probably won’t be very difficult to find a farmer and most of us are more than willing to chat about what we do. But if that seems a little daunting, try looking for farmers online — there are a lot of us!! I suggest starting with this list of so-called “agvocate” blogs (bonus: they are organized by region!).
U.S. Department of Agriculture. If you want to know the basic information about what genetically modified crops are, how prevalent they are, and how they are regulated, a really great place to start is the USDA FAQ section on biotechnology. If you really aren’t familiar with the technology, this is probably a good place to begin because it lays out the basics and provides additional links for more information.
GMO Answers. If you want reliable information about genetically modified food and have specific questions, GMO Answers is definitely a place you need to look. The website allows you to ask any question about biotechnology, and then gets your question to an expert who can answer it. Scientists, farmers, agronomists, dietitians, and others are tapped by GMO Answers to provide timely and accurate information. Submitting a question is easy and the information is provided so anyone can understand it.