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Science & Environment

At Crop Insurance Summit, Agriculture Secretary Addresses GMOs

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Elle Moxley
/
KCUR
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack addresses a global gathering of crop insurers in Kansas City, Missouri.

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.

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