The journalist in me appreciated this clever headline. The agriculturist in me, however, saw a red flag and decided to read the opening paragraph of this blog by Kristi Cooper, Family Life Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach:

Oh My Goodness! I am amazed at the flurry of GMO conversation in social and news media. If you are blissfully unaware of what I am talking about, GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. GMO, my definition, is the code word for everything that is bad in the food chain right now.

“GMO, my definition, is the code word for everything that is bad in the food chain right now.” Fortunately, I didn’t take offense at this statement and chose instead to read further into the article where Cooper writes:

I don’t want to be afraid of my food. I don’t want to be afraid of my social media ‘friends’. I don’t want to be afraid of asking questions about GMO for fear someone will ‘peg’ me in one ‘camp’ or the other. Food is critical to our survival so anything that seems threatens the safety, quality or supply triggers strong emotion in people.

GMOs certainly trigger emotions from people on both sides of the issue, but it’s unfortunate that fear is one of the emotions often experienced. Food should not be feared. Fear causes people to make decisions and act in ways that defy common sense and common decency

Here’s an example of how fear clouds judgment…

When our young daughter had problems sleeping during thunderstorms, we were told by experts that she needed to “face her fears.” We sat at the kitchen table and watched lightning outside the window. We talked about rain provides much needed drinks for crops, flowers and trees. We explained how rain replenishes water supplies for humans, livestock and animals. We watched YouTube videos of storms. We practiced emergency drills and talked about the safest places to be inside our home should a storm occur.

After years (yes, years) of us “educating” and arming our daughter with the facts, she no longer bites her nails down to the quick during a thunderstorm. She no longer comes running into our bedroom during the middle of the night. Why? Because she has the confidence to deal with her fears.

At the end of the day, confidence is what we all need. Nothing is more important than making the choice we believe is best for our bodies – and our families (sometimes these two are one in the same). Greater understanding happens when consumers understand the facts of food production. That’s why I advocate for food dialogues that allow producers and consumers to truly engage in healthy conversation, leading to greater understanding.

Here’s hoping that tonight’s Eco Family Virtual Conference on Food and Genetic Engineering provides a healthy food dialogue! Larry Sailer, who blogs every Tuesday on TheFieldPosition.com, will be one of the presenters. Click here to register as a guest.

Another opportunity to engage in a conversation about GMOs will be Monday when the Iowa Food & Family Project, presents an evening with Nathanael Johnson, Grist food writer. There is no cost but pre-registration is required by Friday, March 7. Contact Maureen Hans at mhans@iasoybeans.com or 515.334.1077.

Start a conversation about food production with someone, anyone!