Ships in the Night?
Consumers and
genetically modified foods:
adrift in a sea of misinformation
Cami Ryan, B.Comm., Ph.D.
...
Awash in a sea of complexity…
Science
Production &
processing
Regulations
Intellectual
Property
Labeling
Public and
Privat...
3
Navigating murky waters…
 Definitions:
 What are GMOs or Genetically Modified Organisms?
Political terms
 Genetic engi...
So, what’s the science behind all this?
 a gene or genes inserted into plant instead of the
acquiring them through pollin...
Canola 96%
Soybean 91%
Corn 77%
Sugarbeet 91%
GE crops: Canada and the world
Map Source: International Service for the Acq...
The Biotechnology Landscape
 To bring a GE crop to market in North America, it
costs…
 ~ $140 million dollars and 13+ ye...
Regulation
of GE Crops
The Rudder? Regulation of GE Crops
Intellectual Property & Plants
 Patents and Plant Breeders’
Rights or PVPs (plant varietal
protection)
 What do these te...
“Hey, aren’t farmers
held captive by
‘Big Ag’?”
12
…in a word, no.
 Contracts/agreement between
company and producer
 Producer’s end of the deal?
 read and follow technol...
Farm Facts
 What options DO farmers have at their
disposal?
 Organic or conventional production (inc GE
crops)
 Range o...
GMO Labeling
 The politics and economics of labeling
 Mandatory vs voluntary labeling: there is a
difference!
 Initiati...
Perceptions of GE crops and foods
 Studies done in over 20 countries (Colson and Rousu
2013)
 Public understanding of bi...
Perceptions of science…
 ‘privatized’ (Maeseele 2009)
 ‘science-industrial complex’; having evolved into a
‘private good...
Dog noses or space aliens?
HUMAN COGNITIVE HABITS
18
Perceptions of
who the experts
really are…
Unskilled and unaware of it:
The Dunning-Kruger Effect
less
knowledgeable
more
knowledgeable
Kruger, Justin; David Dunning...
Scientific Research
Good Poor
PEER REVIEW
NO YES YES NO
PR Campaign
More Science /
Replication
MAKES GREAT
HEADLINES!“Stan...
Scientific Consensus on GE Crops
 Biofortified (not for profit organization) GENERA
database:
 750+ (and growing) peer r...
Organizations that attest to safety of
GMOs
American Association for the Advancement
of Science
American Medical Associati...
Genetic Engineering
an important SCIENTIFIC TOOL
Genetically Engineered
Crops
NOT a silver bullet, but definitely and impo...
Lots of ‘good news’
GMO stories out there…
25
Photo: J. Kamiya-Rose
Photo credit: Andy Kristian Agaba / © Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Challenges: growing population,
limited area of arab...
doccamiryan.wordpress.com
@DocCamiRyan
Cami Ryan
Questions?
Ships in the Night?
Consumers and genetically modified foods
Ships in the Night: GMOs and Consumer Perceptions
Ships in the Night: GMOs and Consumer Perceptions
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Ships in the Night: GMOs and Consumer Perceptions

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Presentation at Nutrition File (Calgary and Edmonton), an annual seminar put on by Alberta Milk for registered dieticians. Had the opportunity to present alongside Dr. Steve Savage, Terry Fleck of the Center for Food Integrity and others!

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Ships in the Night: GMOs and Consumer Perceptions

  1. 1. Ships in the Night? Consumers and genetically modified foods: adrift in a sea of misinformation Cami Ryan, B.Comm., Ph.D. College of Agriculture and Bioresources University of Saskatchewan Nutrition File Seminar 2014 Food Integrity: Building Consumer Trust in Our Food System 1
  2. 2. Awash in a sea of complexity… Science Production & processing Regulations Intellectual Property Labeling Public and Private sectors Consumers and Perceptions “GMOs?! Whoa! That’s scary stuff!” 2
  3. 3. 3
  4. 4. Navigating murky waters…  Definitions:  What are GMOs or Genetically Modified Organisms? Political terms  Genetic engineering scientific term  Biotechnology industry term 4
  5. 5. So, what’s the science behind all this?  a gene or genes inserted into plant instead of the acquiring them through pollination  plant breeders can bring useful genes – from wide range of sources - together in one plant  desirable genes: higher yield or improved quality, pest or disease resistance, or tolerance to heat, cold and drought, increased nutritional value 5
  6. 6. Canola 96% Soybean 91% Corn 77% Sugarbeet 91% GE crops: Canada and the world Map Source: International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) 2011
  7. 7. The Biotechnology Landscape  To bring a GE crop to market in North America, it costs…  ~ $140 million dollars and 13+ years (Phillips McDougall 2011)  Major international players:  BASF, Bayer Cropscience, Dow AgroSciences, Monsanto, Pioneer Hi-bred International, Syngenta  Many other smaller players worldwide In Canada: Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Performance Plants and AgriSoma… others… 9
  8. 8. Regulation of GE Crops The Rudder? Regulation of GE Crops
  9. 9. Intellectual Property & Plants  Patents and Plant Breeders’ Rights or PVPs (plant varietal protection)  What do these terms mean?  Why protect?  What is protected?  Why does it matter? Suggested reading: “A Defense of Plant and Crop Related Patents” S. Savage website Applied Mythology Intellectual Property Management in Health and Agricultural Innovation Krattiger et al (2008) 11
  10. 10. “Hey, aren’t farmers held captive by ‘Big Ag’?” 12
  11. 11. …in a word, no.  Contracts/agreement between company and producer  Producer’s end of the deal?  read and follow technology use guide  properly steward the product inc pest control  Use seed in single planting /not re-sell Brian Scott, Indiana farmer
  12. 12. Farm Facts  What options DO farmers have at their disposal?  Organic or conventional production (inc GE crops)  Range of inputs and resources  Private and public sources of seed Protected and/or freely available  Having range of options enables farmers to better manage operations and production  Other on-farm strategies: integrated pest management, good stewardship practices, crop rotation 14
  13. 13. GMO Labeling  The politics and economics of labeling  Mandatory vs voluntary labeling: there is a difference!  Initiatives in Canada and the US  Costs Washington State Academy of Sciences (2013); Alston & Sumner (2012) 15
  14. 14. Perceptions of GE crops and foods  Studies done in over 20 countries (Colson and Rousu 2013)  Public understanding of biotechnology and food = LOW (Pew 2006)  Only 26% of consumers surveyed believe that they had consumed a GM food  74% indicated that they had little to no knowledge about the government regulation of food 16 “Wildly differing results” in research studies and surveys… (Lusk 2012)
  15. 15. Perceptions of science…  ‘privatized’ (Maeseele 2009)  ‘science-industrial complex’; having evolved into a ‘private good’  driven by monopolistic interests to promote and develop technology for profit  Science is “silent” (Ryan and Doerksen 2013)  Culture, institutional impediments, lack of rewards or incentive mechanisms 17
  16. 16. Dog noses or space aliens? HUMAN COGNITIVE HABITS 18
  17. 17. Perceptions of who the experts really are…
  18. 18. Unskilled and unaware of it: The Dunning-Kruger Effect less knowledgeable more knowledgeable Kruger, Justin; David Dunning (1999). "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 77 (6): 1121–34.
  19. 19. Scientific Research Good Poor PEER REVIEW NO YES YES NO PR Campaign More Science / Replication MAKES GREAT HEADLINES!“Standing on the Shoulder of Giants” Media Headlines??? NOT SO MUCH…
  20. 20. Scientific Consensus on GE Crops  Biofortified (not for profit organization) GENERA database:  750+ (and growing) peer reviewed studies spanning 20+ years  Categorized for factors on safety: consumption, environment, equivalence and efficacy  Nicolia etal 2013 (in Critical Reviews in Biotechnology) meta-study:  review of 1783 studies spanning 2002 to 2012 22
  21. 21. Organizations that attest to safety of GMOs American Association for the Advancement of Science American Medical Association World Health Organization National Academy of Science Royal Society of Medicine European Commission American Council of Science and Health American Dietetics Association American Society for Cell Biology American Society of Microbiology American Society of Plant Sciences International Seed Foundation The Science Source for Food, Agriculture and Environmental Issues Crop Science Society of America Federation of Animal Science Societies Society for Invitro Biology Society of Toxicology French Academy of Science Royal Society of London Royal Society of Canada Seven of the World’s Society of Academies Food Standards Australia New Zealand The Union of German Academics and Societies ….more! 23
  22. 22. Genetic Engineering an important SCIENTIFIC TOOL Genetically Engineered Crops NOT a silver bullet, but definitely and important TOOL in the tool box
  23. 23. Lots of ‘good news’ GMO stories out there… 25 Photo: J. Kamiya-Rose
  24. 24. Photo credit: Andy Kristian Agaba / © Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Challenges: growing population, limited area of arable land, disease, pests, drought, climate change 26
  25. 25. doccamiryan.wordpress.com @DocCamiRyan Cami Ryan Questions? Ships in the Night? Consumers and genetically modified foods

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