Farmers Hang Out to Talk Transparency

Monday, January 19, 2015
Food for Thought 2014 Omnibus Survey

By: Jeff Donald


“Part of us being open and transparent is talking about the science that goes into the technologies that we use,” says Zach Hunnicut, a fifth-generation family farmer from Aurora, Nebraska. “That’s why it’s so important for farmers to be out there and be heard. If 86% of consumers are concerned about modern agricultural practices, they will go somewhere to find information, and we need to make certain that it’s the right information they use to form an opinion.”


Recently Bayer CropScience hosted a Google Hangout that included Hunnicut, who is actively involved with educating non-ag audiences about modern agriculture technologies, and Julie Borlaug, associate director for external relations at the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture. Both provided insight into the importance of transparency to help consumers feel more comfortable about the use of technology on the farm.


Both participants pointed to the discussion around Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) as an example of consumer backlash toward technology. According to a recent Bayer CropScience Omnibus survey, 42 percent of consumers have a negative perception of GMOs.


“We haven’t stopped innovating,” says Borlaug. “There is much more technology to come along and we need to be able to explain it.”


Borlaug states that, in her conversations with people from around the world as part of her professional role, it’s important for growers and consumers alike to understand the role the U.S. plays in policies that impact the entire world. “While we might be debating advanced technologies like GMOs, a farmer in Bangladesh may just need basic herbicides or insecticides to help his crop grow.”


Hunnicut appreciates the 70 percent of consumers that support the use of technology to make food more abundant and affordable, but wonders what the other 30 percent are thinking. “I don’t think there are 30 percent of people that would want to get on a plane using technology from a generation ago. We’re accepting of that technology when we get in a plane, drive a car, use a computer or use a phone,” he says. “We need to do a little better job of relating that scenario to what we are doing on the farm.”


To see the full Hangout, visit the Bayer CropScience YouTube Channel.





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