So I’ve had the neat opportunity to attend some sessions at the BIO International Convention

Betsie Estes

over the last few days, and one of them was The Food Dialogues, a program put together by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. You can watch the recorded panel on the Food Dialogues website here if you’re interested – the basic premise is that a panel of various experts gets together to have a conversation and answer questions about the food production process.

You all know where I stand on biotech foods, so rather than go over my thoughts on biotech foods in general, I thought I’d just throw out a few of the things that really struck me during the Dialogues:

There is a basic failure to understand science in this country. A huge percentage of people don’t know, for example, that tomatoes have genes. To me this issue goes far beyond a failure of the food industry to educate consumers, and goes all the way back to the status of science education among our young people. All living things have genes. A tomato plant is a living thing. This shouldn’t be that hard.

Biotechnology is a science. Biotechnology is not Monsanto. Monsanto might *use* biotech concepts, but the technology should not be mistaken for a single corporation.Far too many people have their feelings about a corporation tangled up with their feelings about a technology here.

There’s a pervasive thought that the people who are anti-GMO are operating from a purely altruistic place. But make no mistake, just as there is big money in biotech, there is big money in opposing the technology. Entire brands, both corporate and personal, have been developed around the concept that GM foods are bad, and they stand to lose a lot if they can’t convince consumers to agree with them.

And then lastly, there’s this: we are only having this conversation because we are a wealthy country.  One of the panelists responded to a question as to whether or not biotech products benefit consumers by saying well, for some people they do – because they have been hungry before.

So the cool thing about USFRA’s Food Dialogues program is that they are actually hosting another panel here in Chicago! That panel will take place on Wednesday, June 19th, from 10 to noon at Kendall College, and you can get more info on the panel and how to register here if you’re interested in attending. I hope you will!  :)

This post was written by Betsie Estes, you can read more from her at her blog supersuburbs.com