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Is the GMO tide shifting?

Are public attitudes changing toward the anti-GMO movement? Despite local bans, bills and ballot initiatives, the American Farm Bureau Federation says they are. At least a dozen places around the nation have banned or limited genetically modified crops, most recently two southern Oregon counties. Eighty-five bills on GMO labeling are pending in 30 states, along with dueling bills in Congress.

“Whenever that happens at a local jurisdiction, it puts that area’s farmers at a clear disadvantage in regard to being competitive,” said Mace Thornton, AFBF spokesman. “It is very costly to become part of the conversation and speak up with the best science that we know that says that all of this technology is safe.”

Thornton claims the current GMO dialogue fails to recognize the benefits of biotechnology to farmers and the environment and how in the long run it could significantly impact the ability to produce a robust food supply needed to feed people in the U.S. and worldwide. But despite GMO opponents, Thornton claims public opinion may be shifting the other way.

“Some people that were previously opposed to GMOs are starting to reconsider whether or not they should take a second look,” Thornton said. “That change of opinion is all based on what this means to the future of feeding the world.”

Thornton said his organization is beginning to see mainstream media take a little bit of a different voice on GMO coverage, as well as those on the progressive side of the political spectrum who may have been too quick to judge GMOs the first time around.

Thornton said with about half U.S. planted acres now producing GMO crops, it all boils down to growing more food on the same or fewer acres to feed a soaring world population that could top 9 billion by 2050.

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