Viewpoint: Biotech industry must invest more in public outreach, or risk losing GMO debate to activists

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Anti-GMO protestor at Iowa organizing meeting as petition signatures were being gathered.

Agri-food is a $110 billion industry in Canada. Canola, just canola, supports 250,000 jobs and has a $26 billion impact on Canada’s economy, based on a 2016 study. Those numbers are eye-popping — as is another financial statistic from Canada’s ag sector, but not in a good way.

A few years ago, like-minded groups and individuals came together to form the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity, an organization with a mandate to help Canada’s food system earn trust.

The centre has a long list of high profile members and financial supporters, including Maple Leaf Foods, Bayer, Tim Hortons, Richardson, Cargill, the Canadian Canola Growers and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. However, its annual budget is less impressive. In 2017, the centre had revenues of $989,677 and expenditures slightly above $1 million.

Building public trust in food and farming, with a budget of $1 million, is not an easy task.

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Over the last three to five years, most people in the ag sector have realized that [public] perceptions [can be] hazardous for the industry, and there’s an urgent need to clear up misconceptions about things like pesticides, biotech crops and other tools of modern agriculture.

There is a real risk that Canada may become more like Europe, where politicians and consumer groups have successfully banned GM crops …. [The industry needs] to get serious about this issue.

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Read full, original article: BLOG: Canada underfunds efforts to build public trust in ag

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