Food Dialogues at University of Nebraska Explores Ways to Pivot the GMO Conversation

American shoppers have access to more information than ever before. As a result, they have more opportunities to share their opinions about how food is grown and raised. In many instances, these concerns have resulted in a response by major food companies to market food under a myriad of labels from "sustainable" and "natural" to "GMO-free" and "locally-grown." But, what do these terms really mean, and what impact do they have on farm production practices and consumers perception of todays agriculture?

To address these issues, the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), in conjunction with the Nebraska Soybean Board hosted a Food Dialogues: Pivoting the GMO Conversation at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln on September 6. More than 100 attendees and nearly 7,000 people have viewed the livestream. This compelling panel of farmers, academics and environmental experts discussed the differing conversations surrounding biotechnology and its impact on todays food and the environment.

"The conversation around food and farming - what determines safe or unsafe food, good or bad agricultural techniques - is out of balance, which is why this Food Dialogues and the film FOOD EVOLUTION is so important," said Scott Hamilton Kennedy, Academy Award-nominee and Food Evolution Director/Producer, who moderated the panel. "Some may call Food Evolution a defense of GMOs, and it certainly is a reset of an out of balance conversation, but the main reason I made the film was to defend the importance of everyone, from parents to politicians, using science to inform the decisions they make."


Key insights from the panelists include:

With new technologies, such as soil moisture probes and GMOs, we can be as precise as possible and protect our natural resources Jeremy Brown, Texas cotton farmer

We can relate to others if we tell our personal story and be informative, for example, theres no nutritional difference between organic food and their conventionally-grown counterparts Amber Pankonin, MS, RD, LMNT, Former President of Nebraska Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

We need to be transparent on both sides, its not us against them. Our entire food system needs to work together, and lets keep in mind that farmers are business owners, stewards of the land and true innovators Danielle Nierenberg, Co-Founder of FoodTank

We have the opportunity for farmers in emerging economies to double their yields through modern production practices, including biotechnology, and transform their farms from subsistence agriculture to marketable agriculture Dr. Marty Matlock, University of Arkansas

GMO crops allow our farm to be more efficient and environmentally friendly. We use science to improve our farming methods Hilary Maricle, Nebraska crop and livestock farmer


With a polarized discussion marked by fear, distrust and confusion and the controversy
surrounding GMOs, Scott Hamilton Kennedys film Food Evolution separates the hype from the science to unravel the debate around food, sparking a fact-based public dialogue about biotechnology. USFRA is engaging influencer and consumer audiences through promotion and enhanced distribution of this film, through college/university campus screenings, educational materials, and more.

For more information about USFRA or The Food Dialogues, visit FoodDialogues.com, and to view a recording of the panel discussion click here.

Photo & Story idea: USFRA

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