b'#SCIENCELITERACYPromote Science to Progress Spud InnovationResistance to science is at an all-time high, learn what science literacy could mean to the potato industry.BY: SONJA BEGEMANNWHATS MORE COMPELLING? Survey shows 70 per cent of Canadians say they wont eat GMO potatoes, or, 37 per centAREA SEEDED TO BIOTECH CROPS IN CANADAof Canadians say they wont eat GMO potatoes while 38 per centArea Seeded (1,000 hectares) 2015 2016 2017 2018arent sure if they would. Presentation is everything when it comes to influence. A recentCanola 8,411 8,411 9,307 9,202study by Leger surveyed more than 1,500 Canadians to discoverBiotech Canola 7,990 7,990 8,842 8,742their perception of GMO potatoes. Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, an anti-GMO group, presented the study as anBiotech Canola, percentage of total 95% 95% 95% 95%overwhelming resistance to the technology. The actual numbersSoybeans 2,239 2,269 2,947 2,558tell a different story. Biotech Soy 1,612 1,724 2,417 2,123Heres a breakdown of the datawithout spin (numbers are rounded and therefore, the total does not equal 100 per cent): Biotech Soy, percentage of total 72% 76% 82% 83% 18 per cent said they would eat GMO potatoes Corn for Grain 1,359 1,452 1,447 1,470 38 per cent said they might eat GMO potatoes Biotech Corn 1,128 1,224 1,272 1,367 37 per cent said they certainly would not eat GMO potatoes Six per cent said they didnt know or did not have an opinion Biotech Corn, percentage of total 83% 85% 88% 93%When organizations can make data say whatever serves theirSugar Beets 7 10 11 11purpose, whats to stop agriculturalists from telling the real story? Why cant growers turn that 38 per cent of maybes into informedBiotech Sugarbeet 7 10 11 11consumers who understand the safety message hidden behind aBiotech Sugarbeet, percentage of total 100% 100% 100% 100%scary acronym like GMO? Source: Statistics Canada, Canola Council, Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation, I think its everybodys responsibility who is involved inSaskatchewanMinistry of Agriculture, FAS/Ottawaagriculture to be involved in communicating, says Robb Fraley, who commercialized the first genetically modified soybean and now acts as a communicator for the industry. When I wasWhen the first GMO product, the FLAVR SAVR tomato, came growing up on a small farm in Illinois, more than half of theout people had no idea what GMO even meant, says Kurtis people who lived in the state were involved in agriculture. TodayBaute, climate change activist who produces frequent videos its less than one per cent. promoting science. It was something that really came out of the Its the responsibility of everyone involved in food anddark for them, and it was surprising and scary for many. Because agriculture to reach out to the other 99 per cent regarding theof that, we ended up shelving the idea.importance of new scientific advances to increase food productionThe long and short of it, if you need a reminder, is public and improve the sustainability of farming, he continues. backlash led to pulling FLAVR SAVR tomatoes from the shelfdespite the scientific reality there was no risk in consuming The Challenge them. People didnt know what they were, and ignorance bred Think back to the early 1990s when the FLAVR SAVR tomatofear, which manifested itself into nixing the product.was commercializedalbeit short lived. It carried promise toFear lives on. Activist groups around the world are still fighting reduce waste and improve flavour, a promise which never cameagainst GMOs, despite what has now been more than 20 years of to fruition. research indicating no adverse human or environmental effects.20SPUDSMART.COM Summer 2021'