Eric Pierce

Its time to expand the dialogue on GMOs

The road forward requires evolving the discussion of GMOs beyond their being entirely good or bad.

As one would expect, fear regarding the safety of the food we feed our families is a major motivator. Look no further than the social and media coverage of GMOs and organic. The Environmental Working Group did wonders for organic with its Dirty Dozen, but it also over-simplified organic as a pesticide residue issue. Similarly, state labeling ballot campaigns one-dimensionalized the topic of GMOs to one of long-term health concerns.

The reality is that there are many different issues that both GMO opponents and proponents are trying to solve. While I won’t claim that all intentions are pure or unadulterated on either side, I believe, at the core, both have honorable intentions.

It's time to change the dialogue. If we want to solve problems with the best available solutions—if we want progress—we need to move beyond the emotional dialogue we have been having, because it is doing progress a disservice. It's time we stop over-simplifying the conversation of GMOs. If we are going to get the most out of this technology while doing the least harm, we need to expand the dialogue.

It’s time to go beyond the discussion of all GMOs as good or bad. Reality exists in color, not black and white. We need to go beyond the discussion of GMOs as a health vs. feeding the world issue. We need to discuss, in a lot more detail, agricultural practices, water quality, soil quality and the risks of direct and indirect exposure to agricultural chemicals. We need to discuss how best to preserve soil nutrients and the nutritional quality of food—not just the volume and efficiency with which it is produced. If we want progress, we need to expand the dialogue.

Let's build a full list of the issues that need to be discussed. Please add to the list in the comments.

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