In the final panel for the day, U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance seemingly saved the best – or certainly the most inflamed – topic for last. The third panel held at The Food Dialogues in New York City covered "Your Toughest Questions Answered on Biotechnology and Your Food."
Moderated by Ali Velshi, CNN chief business correspondent, panelists included Dr. Bob Goldberg, plant molecular biologist at UCLA; Dr. Julie Howard, chief scientist at USAID; Gregory Jaffe, directof of biotechnology, Center for the Science in the Public Interest; Fred Kirschenmann, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University; Cheryl Rogowski, New York organic farmer; Jerry Slocum, Mississippi soybean farmer.
Discussion ranged widely, from organic farmer Cheryl Rogowski who shared how customers come to her because they want to know the farmer who grows their food and because they want assurance of an organic food supply, to molecular biologist Bob Goldberg, who maintains our food supply has never been safer because of biotechnology.
"There's absolutely no safety problem with these crops. In fact, they are some of the safest ever, given the amount of testing that's been done," Goldberg said.
And yet Rogowski maintained, customers seek her out for non-GM products. "I had two people come in this summer and want a guarantee that it was not GM sweet corn. And I could tell them, I don't knowingly have any GM on my farm."
Kirschenmann was admittedly not against biotechnology (though he preferred the term "transgenic" because "we have transcended normal genetics.") but he wants everyone to consider other possibilities and answers within the production system. He'd also like to see a lot more research.