So I have a friend (don’t we all that THAT friend?) who swears by “clean” eating. She has a Himalayan Pink Salt Lamp by her bed and one in her office, she makes noodles out of organic zucchini, and many of her food-related Facebook posts make my eyes roll so hard that there is danger of falling over.
And this struggle, friends, is very real. She’s a wonderful person. I’ve known her for a long time, and she’s a good Christian woman, a great mother and a loving wife. She’s not woo-crazy on the workout train, but she is concerned about her health and the health of her family, as good mothers should be.
As you can probably guess, we have some fundamental disagreements about food, food safety, animal care standards (she’s a sometimes-vegetarian, which I find to be a huge “missed steak,”) and – of course – big, bad GMOs.
This may come as a shock to some, but I am pretty blunt. (I KNOW! Who’d have thought?) I have learned to dial back the bluntness and ask questions about her fears and beliefs before jumping in with a pile of irrefutable scientific data that makes her feel defensive. That’s hard for me, but I am learning. Nobody wants to be wrong, much less be wrong because they listened to some woo-peddling crackpot wanna-be celebrity… so we often simply agree to disagree.
That said, fellow AGvocates, science is on our side! The National Academy of Sciences, one of the country’s most prestigious scientific groups, looked at more than 90 studies and a large amount of disease data. The conclusion remains that there has been no increase in health risks related to the consumption of food from genetically engineered (GE) plants.
The World Health Organization had the same findings, as did The International Council for Science, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, and a whole long list (that I keep handy) of reputable scientific organizations from around the world.
But the Non-GMO Verified Project (they’re the ones with the butterfly label that companies PAY to put on their packaging) is still doing a better job than the agriculture community, swaying people into believing that food from GE plants is bad in a number of ways. I generally refuse to buy anything with that label on it, and I’m sure that one person’s purchasing decisions won’t make a bit of difference in the fearmongering marketing strategy of those companies. As those of us involved in agriculture comprise only two percent of the population, ALL of our purchasing decisions put together won’t move that needle.
But I have made it a point, when I change brands because of fearmongering or anti-GMO or animal housing sentiment, to contact the company I can no longer support with my food dollars and tell them WHY. Again, I’m not what my Granny would call “ugly” about it, just very matter-of-fact. I then also contact the company that has GAINED my business because they don’t hold that same position, and tell them WHY I am a new customer.
Sending these emails and making these contacts is tiring, (Pro Tip: keep a fill-in-the-blanks copy on your desktop – Copy and Paste is your friend), and sometimes I feel as if I am wasting my time. But then I remember a great quote from author Max Lucado that applies to so many aspects of life: “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.”
I am someone, and I can do something. You are also someone, and you can do something. Evaluate your purchases. Are you growing perfectly safe GE crops on your farm but buying things with that goofy butterfly on the label? Are you a proponent of renewable fuels who is burning petroleum-based gas and diesel on the farm?
Back to my friend from the beginning: I think she’s misguided and mistaken in her food beliefs and choices, but she is firm in her beliefs and she’s walking the walk, not just talking the talk. Can we in agriculture say the same?