Organic and biotech leaders clash at summit meant to promote cooperation

| | March 13, 2015
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Can genetically modified crops grow in harmony with their non-GMO counterparts?

The debate between the pro-biotech and non-GMO camps increasingly looks more like scorched earth than common ground. Biotech seed makers like Monsanto and Syngenta along with farmer groups, argue that genetically modified crops are critical to feed a growing global population. Organic food companies and consumer groups charge that GMO crops promote a chemical-heavy approach to farming that’s harsh on land and animals and could contribute to human-health problems.

The increasingly polarized debate prompted the U.S. Department of Agriculture to convene Thursday a two-day summit on “agricultural coexistence” that seeks to mend some farmland fence-posts.

“The one thing I am really tired of is division,” said Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, at the event at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C. “This is about finding a path forward.”

But finding that path appeared difficult, with some speakers on both sides of the issue offering few signs of compromise.

“Organic is the future of American agriculture,” said Errol Schweizer, executive global grocery coordinator for Whole Foods Market. Organic crops are grown without GMO seeds.

“We’re not going to feed the world with organic foods,” said Dan Glickman, executive director of the Aspen Institute, a public policy think tank in Washington, and a former U.S. secretary of agriculture.

One thing both factions agree on: The discord costs money. Tens of millions of dollars have been spent advocating for and against state ballot initiatives and legislation requiring labels for foods made with GMOs.

Read full, original article: Anti-GMO, Biotech Factions Clash at Food Summit

 

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