"You need science. But you never win debates on science, you win them by appealing to emotions."
That recent quote from Larry Jensen, President and CEO of Leprino Foods Company, sums up the issue at hand on the battle with GMOs (genetically modified organisms).
The science on the safety of GMOs is overwhelming. Yet science is not winning the debate on the GMO issue. Consider the following statements by Alison Van Eenennaam with the University of California-Davis:
- "Impact of GMOs on the 2013 U.S. cropping season (percent GMO by each crop): 95 percent of sugar beets; 93 percent of soybeans; 90 percent of corn; 90 percent of cotton; and 90 percent of alfalfa seed sold in 2013."
- "There have been 2 trillion meals consumed containing GMO ingredients in the past 16 years with no documented effects."
- "The majority of 180 billion food animals raised in the U.S. and the EU between 2000 to 2011 have eaten GMOs with no effects."
- "There is no way to determine if an animal has eaten feed from GMOs. It all gets broken down via digestion."
- And for dairy specifically . . . "Even if cows eat GMO-based feed, there isn't any recombinant DNA in the milk due to digestion."
"Food E-Vangelists," says Linda Eatherton with Katchum Public Relations.
"Food E-Vangelists are self-appointed agents of change. They represent 11 percent of U.S. consumers and they interact via blogs four times a week," said Eatherton.
"Food E-Vangelists want relationships with food producers and food manufacturers. They are not interested in facts and science."
With that in mind, if we are ever going to win over people on the GMO debate, we must appeal to our customers' emotions. Food, when plentiful, transforms from a need to an emotional purchase.
What's at stake if we lose this debate?
Currently, there are 30 states considering legislation on GMOs. Losing the battle on the GMO issue will not take food production forward but take it decades back. Are we ready to embrace human emotion?