Women set to ‘engage’ activists (Editorial)

(Jan. 12, 2016) One of the major roles of women involved in agriculture has been engagement with consumers in the urban and suburban communities of the nation who do not have the foggiest notion about feed production.
That engagement has heated up in recent years with the advancement of crops whose seed has been altered genetically.
They are referred to as GMOs. And they are stirring passions among the food faddists who claim, despite volumes of scientific evidence to the contrary, that food grown from a GMO seed is unsafe to eat.
GMO crops have been around for 20 years, but many in the anti-GMO crowd don’t realize — or don’t want to accept the fact — that they probably have been consuming a GMO food of some sort for years.
But that will not diminish their passion.
A significant segment of the nation’s consuming public is not buying in.
In fact, it seems that in spite of all the conversations about GMOs, they are becoming more and more pugnacious.
An increased focus on GMOs through media coverage, ballot initiatives and advocacy group activity has caused a widening gap between what both farmer and consumers thought they knew, and the contrary information they have been hearing.
More than 30 women attended a program known as “Engage” at the recent Maryland Farm Bureau convention, picking up tips on how to chat with neighbors, non-farming friends and the media about that profession known as agriculture. The seminar is also on the agenda for the Maryland Cattlemen’s convention in Hagerstown in March.
A program with the same focus has earned a four-hour pre-conference meeting at the 15th annual Mid-Atlantic Women in Ag Conference Feb. 10 “to explore the science that allows us to create GMO crops and how they come to market.”
Ron Beck, of the Center for Food Integrity, will provide an overview of what consumers think, who they want to hear from and tips on communicating about what has become a polarizing topic.
Those in charge of planning the Maryland Farm Bureau annual meeting, the Maryland Cattlemen’s Association meeting and the pre-conference session at the Women in Agriculture gathering at the Dover Downs Hotel on Feb. 10, are to be congratulated for taking the GMO battle head-on.