By Shala Watson

Take a walk down the supermarket aisle. What do you see? Food labels galore!

Non-GMO. Gluten-free. Organic. All natural. You name it, you can probably find it.

But what do the labels really mean? Are they in our best interest or a marketing ploy to get us to spend more money on a brand’s products?

It all starts with what we know about farming methods—conventional practices that use genetically modified organisms (GMOs), conventional practices that don’t use GMOs and organic practices that don’t.

The majority of U.S. farmers and ranchers say GMO crops are an important tool in helping raise crops more efficiently, a recent survey from the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) and National Corn Growers Association found.

But only 11 percent of consumers found GMOs favorable.

So why the large gap of GMO support between consumers and farmers?

I think it’s a lack of understanding about the beneficial link between GMOs and sustainability. Marketing can be misleading, trying to make us believe that non-GMO is healthier and better for the environment.

GMOs aren’t something to be scared of, though. It’s just a rather unfortunate term for a process of changing the way a plant expresses genes.

Farmers have been putting in and taking out genes from living things for ages using hybridization. Modern technology allows this process to be done more accurately.

New technology isn’t agriculture’s foe. It should be its strongest ally.

We want the latest in technology when it comes to our phones, our cars and other ‘smart’ applications. Why not make that work in our favor in agriculture?

GMOs help farmers conserve water and use fewer pesticides and herbicides. And scientists endorse biotechnology.

Organic farming has its benefits, too, and many organic farms use the same technology and innovation to drive forward as conventional farmers.

Organic farmers also look for new ways to maximize resources and add value to crops. And organic farmers use pesticides, too.

Both organic and conventional farms vary widely. Some conventional farms don’t use GMOs and some organic farms spray their crops often. Each method fits that particular farm. It’s what makes our food system so diverse.

All methods work. There’s a demand for many of those products. And we get to choose which ones we’d like to buy.

Shala Watson

Staff Writer

I was born and raised in the East Texas Pineywoods. I don’t have a traditional agricultural background. But I’m inspired by the hard working men and women who produce our food and fiber. I’m a small town girl just trying to bring a fresh perspective to ag journalism.

Facebook Twitter