U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stopped in Kansas City Monday to address the Congress of the International Association of Agricultural Production Insurers, a global group of farm insurers.
Though Vilsack was mostly there to explain U.S. crop insurance subsidies to the largely European audience – elsewhere, direct payments to farmers remain more common – he also touched on consumer pushback against genetically-modified crops.
“If the industry were to turn the clock back 20 or 30 years … I suspect they would have marketed a little differently,” Vilsack said. “There would have been as much focus on the consumer as there was on the producer”
Vilsack says while producers saw GMO seeds as a way to increase productivity and reduce damage to crops, many consumers remain unconvinced that food containing genetically modified ingredients is safe to eat.
As a result, Vilsack there’s a lot of information circulating about GMOs that isn’t “wholly accurate.”
“The utilization at least in this country of smart technology should allow people to get information about the contents of a food product they’re consuming without the impression that it’s unsafe,” Vilsack says.
For example, Vilsack says a QR code could pull up additional information about how a food item was grown and why the seed was altered.
This is the first year the insurers’ congress has been held outside of Europe.