We all care about our food's safety, nutritional value, availability (or scarcity), and cost to us and the environment. Because of that, much of the food debate and its issues have shifted to rapidly evolving mediums, causing dialogue fragmentation and the occasional lack of context. Principal at LINKAGES, Karil Kochenderfer, shares her thoughts on genetically modified (GM) foods and the impact the technology has on our society.
Kochenderfer points out that we currently live in a biotech age, and are surrounded by biotech products every day. “If we’re to have an open and honest conversation regarding biotech, we must understand the GM is not a food, it’s a process and a tool,” she says. She outlines three common arguments regarding GM foods and the great label debate.
Argument 1: What about gene mixing?
KK: Humans share genes with other organisms. People often talk about not wanting specific genes in their food to mix, but genetic overlap is everywhere. Humans share 36% of genes in common with the fruit fly, 98% with chimpanzees, and 15% with mustard grass. Genes have specific functions, and these genes serve the same purpose in all organisms.
Argument 2: I’d rather be safe than sorry.
KK: This is a very valid and legitimate point. But we need to be careful not to lose the progress we’ve made around the world that has ultimately helped save lives. For example, wheat yields have dramatically increased due to biotech, and the Green Revolution, attributed to Norman Borlaug (Nobel Laureate), has increased agricultural production worldwide, particularly in developing countries. Real-world applications have helped feed thousands who needed it.
Argument 3: Environmental waste is worse than food waste. Can both be avoided?
KK: There’s a great quote from the U.K. Council of Science and Technology, “Most consumers of food are unaware of food production and distribution challenges. It would help if food producers and retailers were more open about these challenges.”
For example, a common issue for farmers is the corn borer. If a corn borer lays 50 eggs, it can destroy 50 corn stalks. Those diseased 50 corn stalks can destroy a livelihood. Corn is a vital ingredient in many supply chains, affecting more jobs along the chain. If we can protect food from spoil or ruin, we can decrease food waste and protect jobs.
It can be hard to stay on top of labeling changes. Elizabeth Salvo from ESHA Research joined TraceGains to discuss the labeling changes that go into effect this year. Elizabeth serves as Director of Regulatory and Consulting Services at ESHA Research, the preeminent nutrition software provider for almost four decades. Watch the on-demand webinar recording here.