Public controversy over GMOs exposes divide between scientists and consumers

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Editor’s note: The following is from a Q&A with Nancy Cox, dean of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment.

Q: [A] major concern among consumers revolves around genetically modified organisms. Can you touch on this and tell us where the science stands today?

A: Certainly. The concept of genetically modified organisms first came about when genes were inserted into plants for a certain characteristic. One of the most famous ones of those is Roundup Ready soybeans. A gene would be inserted into the soybeans that would make them resistant to Roundup so you could spray those soybeans with Roundup and it would kill all the weeds and preserve the soybeans. It was a great agronomic production practice. It made you use less herbicide because you could control the weeds better.

That said, consumers had a very negative reaction to the concept of altering the genes in an organism that they or animals were going to eat. The technology has generally been proven to be very safe, but it’s a big challenge for the consumer to understand that the way scientists do.

The whole GMO story has been a lesson in the divide between the scientific community and the consumer and I think it taught the scientific food production communities a big lesson about not developing technologies that were unacceptable to consumers.

Read full, original post: The food revolution: How consumer demand is changing the way we eat, what we eat

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