Information is key, right? But what happens when information only creates confusion, rather than understanding? The Food Dialogues: Chicago panel discussion, which focused on transparency, included a look at biotechnology (GMO). The panel agreed that maybe the real concern as a society is about our understanding of science.
“In one sense, people need more information, but it also opens up the opportunity for people to be misinformed and misled about all kinds of practices,” said panelist Jayson Lusk, Oklahoma State University agriculture economist and author of The Food Police. “I fear label claims cause people to believe things that aren’t true – and that’s the opposite of transparency.”
With so much of today’s discussion on transparency tied to labeling, it’s important to ask: if a consumer has no understanding of agricultural science, can transparency really have its desired effect?
The food education challenge in the United States is massive, and without proper understanding of how our food is grown, information intended to differentiate can easily give way to misunderstanding. The million-dollar question, then, is, “How can we better prepare shoppers to understand the technologies used on today’s farms?”
Bo Stone, panelist and USFRA Face of Farming and Ranching spokesperson, said that as generations move further and further away from the farm it becomes a tremendous challenge to tell these stories about how our food is grown – but transparency begins with sharing stories.
As we continue working to build this dialogue and encourage open conversations about our food, we must find creative ways to not only provide information consumers want, but a way to understand it.