The site is funded by CBI members, including BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto Company, and Syngenta. To visit the site, please click here.
Speaking with FoodNavigator-USA, Cathy Enright, Executive Director of the Council for Biotechnology Information, said: “We should have been doing this all along.”
So why now? “The labeling issue has elevated the conversations about GMOs. The science isn’t carrying the day, and we’ve known this for years.
“People started to lose confidence in government and authority decades ago. And the rise of the internet and social media means that peer-review journal articles have the same credibility as blogs for some people.
“We’ve caused our own frustration,” she said.
“We often get asked, ‘What are you hiding?’ We’re not hiding anything; we just haven’t been active in getting the information out there.”
Is it too late?
“If you talk to consumers or policy makers interested in food, unaided they don’t raise any concerns about GMOs. They talk about nutrition and safety and allergens. The vast majority of people don’t know what GMOs are. From that standpoint it is never too late.”
The GMO Answers initiative is open to everyone, she stressed, and any question can be asked.
“We’re bringing the body of evidence online in an easy to understand way, and people can look for themselves,” said Enright.
“We’re not trying to convince or cajole anyone, we want to talk with them, and we’re being very transparent about who is supporting this.”
Enright also stressed that everybody will get an answer. Answers will come from a number of sources, she said, with a “community of independent experts, nutritionists, farmers – both conventional and organic” having agreed to answer questions. “They will not be paid for this,” she said.
“We also have company employees who will answer company-specific questions, and it will be clearly attributed to that person in the company.”
“We want to create a conversation.”
The site also has a ‘public review’ section which will host the food safety data that companies provided to the FDA, said Enright. “We’re working to get all the data up, and we’re talking hundreds and thousands of pages of data.”
The goal is to respond to questions within 24 hours, but Enright admitted that that could change depending on the volume of questions. “It will be no longer than seven days,” she added.