Moans, groans, hisses, even boos. Not rowdy, mind you. But clearly agitated.
You see, the people in the room were among the top experts at ACTUALLY feeding the world. They included numerous PhDs who had spent their careers looking deeply into the issue. Among those present were several of the authors of the authoritative IAASTD report. The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development, is the most comprehensive evaluation of world agriculture ever. It was a three-year collaborative effort with 900 participants and 110 countries, and was co-sponsored by all the majors, e.g. the World Bank, FAO, UNESCO, WHO. The behemoth effort evaluated the last 50 years of agriculture, and prescribed the methods that were now needed to meet the development and sustainability goals of reducing hunger and poverty, improving nutrition, health and rural livelihoods, and facilitating social and environmental sustainability.
And GMOs was not one of those needed methods! It was clear to the experts that the current generation of GMOs did not live up to the hype continuously broadcast by biotech companies and their promotional East Coast wing — the federal government.
In fact, the night before Vilsack addressed the conference, the same audience heard a keynote by Hans Herren, the co-chairman of the IAASTD report, during which he reiterated that biotechnology was not up to the task. And this morning, Hans Herren was in the room when Vilsack tried to play the feed-the-world card. Bad move.
Vilsack responded to the crowd’s rejection by saying, “And well you all can disagree with this, but I am just telling you this. As I travel the world, I am just telling you what people are telling me. They are very concerned about this.”
Thus, he distanced himself from the contentious, and fallacious, argument. He was just reporting what others had told him.
And that may in fact be his problem with understanding the serious health and environmental dangers of GMOs in general, if he is simply, as he says, repeating what others–Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont–have told him over and over again.
That being said, kudos to you for putting the question before him so succinctly. It is an issue sorely in need of informed discussion.
Wake up and smell the roses Tom.
Too bad he could not have attended the entire conference, IAASTD report and all, and formed his own opinion--instead of what "poeple tell him."