Thank you all so much for coming to this AMA today! If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask me, or any of the experts who answer questions, at

I'm Cathy Enright, Executive Director of the Council for Biotechnology Information which founded GMO Answers. I think it's fair to say that the biotech seed industry needs to do a better job talking about the technology—what GMOs are, why farmers choose them, what benefits they provide, and to address any and all questions about their safety. Every day we're answering people's questions about GMOs, and I'm looking forward to answering as many of yours as I can today. I have a PhD in Biochemistry, I'm a mother of four, and am a passionate advocate for all of U.S.agriculture. AMA!


GMOAnswers has engaged a community of independent experts and industry experts, and farming organizations — all of whom are committed to beginning a new conversation with everyone who cares about how our food is grown. More info, and info on the founding member companies including Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences, Syngenta, Bayer, DuPont, and BASF can be found here -

Comments: 231 • Responses: 17  • Date: 

pants_pants_pant18 karma

I farm in North Dakota and do my best to education other to the tangible benefits I experience using the latest in seed technology on my farm.

What do you see as the role of the farmer in educating consumers and how can we do a better job?

gmoanswers12 karma

Americans are increasingly asking questions about their food--where was this made, who grew it, what's in it, what's not, food miles, animal treatment etc. The food supply chain today is inextricably linked and farmers voices are critical. Thanks for all you are doing in this regard. My advice? Embrace the questions, welcome consumers onto your farm, when media calls answer and contact your representatives and let them know why GMOs matter to you and your family.

Eternally6516 karma


gmoanswers12 karma

Actually, the Council for Biotechnology isn't a party to this suit. GLP wrote a lot about this. here's the link:

foofdawg8 karma

That's such bullshit! highly disingenuous.

All of the founding members of the Council are also members of the Grocery Manufacturer's Association, which is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit mentioned.

Care to comment?

gmoanswers3 karma

While all the founding members may be members of the GMA, the Council for Biotechnology Information (my organization) is not. CBI and GMO Answers cannot comment on a legal challenge we are not involved in.

Sweettea6215 karma

What is the biggest legitimate concern you have about GMOs?

gmoanswers20 karma

My concern is with resistance to weeds and insects. While resistance is not unique to GMO crops (resistance has been documented going back over 100 years), the responsible application of pesticides is the agriculture industry's duty--we need to work together to ensure we apply our knowledge and tools for effective crop rotation, crop protection, adoption of cover cropping etc.

LearntBoutDemGMOs8 karma

Do you think more GMOs with varying MOAs would help mitigate those risks while still allowing the farmers to capitalize on all the benefits?

gmoanswers5 karma

Absolutely, but varying MOAs is just one tool we need to apply.

dherik9 karma

Thank you for doing this.

What are the most common misconceptions about GMO's?

gmoanswers10 karma

1) What GMOs are and what they are not, and 2) That they raise health/safety concerns that their non-GMO counterparts do not.

If you're curious, a link to the top 10 questions consumers have is http://gmoansw...mer-questions

Hexaploid8 karma

Two questions, first, what do you feel is being done to facilitate the use of GE crops developed by non-corporate sources and small companies? So far only one GE crop non-corporate crop has made it past deregulation, the Rainbow papaya, and it has been hugely successful, but now no one else is getting the funding to jump through the hurdles of deregulation.

Second, has GMO answers ever considered doing pieces on background information, a topic sorely lacking in consumer education, like about resistance breakdown for when the 'superpest' claim comes up, or other things done to crops (selective breeding, hybridization, gene introgression from wild species, bud sport selection, induced polyploidy, ect.) so that people have the background context on the topic to realize that there are more than just two methods of crop improvement for the labeling issue.

gmoanswers5 karma

Hexaploid, You nailed it. The cost of regulation is limiting innovation. At $35M a pop, only the big guys can afford and it contributes substantially to consolidation in the industry. Unfortunately, the current opposition environment is only adding to the cost of the regulatory review. As a society we need to support a regulatory system that "learns from our experience with the technology" and that helps smaller entities navigate the requirements.

With regard to background pieces, we have lots of information about plant breeding techniques in the Q&A on gmo answers. An example is this graphic:

We're working on more and if you have recommendations please let us know:

pearielle8 karma

Although GMO seeds and plants in and of themselves may not be dangerous, and glyphosate - one of the main ingredients in RoundUp has been being used for many years (and is one of the less "intense" herbicides), I am concerned about the other ingredients in RoundUp, and the effects that they have on human health. If I am not mistaken, they have been linked to Parkinson's disease. Do you have reason to believe I should not be concerned?

gmoanswers5 karma

I've seen that assertion in a study related to glyphosate but that was based on correlation not cause, and was soundly rebutted. I've not seen any data to suggest that the inert ingredients in the glyphosate solution are harmful, but I tell you what; if you ask that question on GMO Answers ( we'll get Monsanto experts to follow up.

kennybenny7 karma

Are there any GMO advancements you are excited about in the coming future?

gmoanswers5 karma

yield increases using photosynthesis as the trigger is my new favorite

LearntBoutDemGMOs4 karma

I think the controversy around GMOs is based in fear, but do you think that fear stems from lack of understanding and education about the technology, or is it the result of the over the top paranoia that you hear from a very loud yet very small minority?

FarminTim4 karma

Over the top paranoia from influential (questionable) people in society like David Suzuki or most recently Dr. Oz

LearntBoutDemGMOs7 karma

Dr. Oz! UGH! Let me add to my own question. Why do supposedly educated people spread this fear? He is surgeon but I watched him tell people there are fish-tomatoes hiding in the grocery store!?!? What the heck?!

Eternally653 karma

there are fish-tomatoes hiding in the grocery store

Don't leave us hanging, what is a fish tomato? The world wants to see a link...

Is this one?

agridavid4 karma

In agriculture journalism reporting on GMO's, where do you think the line is between being objective/getting both sides and following the science?

Bonus question: What is something about agricultural journalism reporting on GMO's that bugs you or something they could be doing better?

Edit: words

gmoanswers9 karma

Ok to cover more than one opinion of course, but I like your last three words--follow the science.

Bonus Q: a) giving equivalency to a single study and the preponderance of the evidence b) Talk with farmers, regulators and scientists more about GMOs.

eat_me_now4 karma

Hi Cathy, what's your take on the claims that GMO pesticides are killing bees in mass numbers?

gmoanswers4 karma

Insect resistant crops? there's no evidence to support a role in mass bee death. Just read a NYT article this morning about bee populations rebounding. If true, we have more questions than answers about what causes such phenomena.

micromongoose1 karma

Hi Cathy - I'm a grad student in communications studying what effects the anti-GM movement is having on policy, and subsequently food production and sales internationally.

What, if anything, can be done or said to assuage anti-GMO activists and consumers that are still skeptical of the safety of GMO-laden products despite the valid research confirming that the technology has proven to be safe?

gmoanswers14 karma

Open and honest communication. For the last decade and a half we made a mistake by not talking about what we do. But that changed with the creation of GMO Answers last year, with in-person meetings across the country, and with this AMA. I'm not sure we'll ever reach the anti-GMO activists, as they are driven by their own agendas, but consumers deserve straight answers and fact so they can make up their own minds.

Notmyrealname7 karma

You say that "anti-GMO activists" are "driven by their own agendas." Are you saying that Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta, Bayer, DuPont, and BASF do not have any agendas regarding GMOs?

TinFoiledHat1 karma

I would say that they have no agendas outside of their innate pursuit of profits at all costs. If you have a problem with large conglomerates, don't take it out on research that's trying to help the world.

Notmyrealname4 karma

They are the ones funding this AMA and also most of the research.

TinFoiledHat1 karma

Not really. They fund some of the basic research on agricultural GMOs, but have little to do with the groundbreaking research that deals with, for example, modifying goat genes to produce milk with antimicrobial properties.

And again, they are for-profit companies whose product is being discriminated against without scientific reasoning. They are involved in business practices that I disagree with, but that does not mean that there is a problem with GMOs.

Notmyrealname5 karma

From the OP's info at the top:

GMOAnswers has engaged a community of independent experts and industry experts, and farming organizations — all of whom are committed to beginning a new conversation with everyone who cares about how our food is grown. More info, and info on the founding member companies including Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta, Bayer, DuPont, and BASF can be found here -

She is a paid representative of these companies. But she claims that only those who raise questions about their products have an agenda and bias. Just seems a little silly. And I don't understand the idea that these products are being discriminated against. They are the majority of what sits on supermarket shelves.

dtiftw-2 karma


Notmyrealname2 karma

She implied it. That's why I asked her for clarification.

gmoanswers2 karma

No need to read between the lines. Anti-GMO organizations have been clear about their various goals: eliminate biotech from the US food system, change the marketplace through legislation, make it increasingly difficult for Monsanto to operate, etc. []. Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences, Syngenta, Bayer, DuPont, and BASF are for-profit companies focused like lasers on increasing yields, using less land, water, chemicals, etc., in farming operations. As an industry, they sell all types of seeds, GMO, non-GMO, organic. They want to help their farmer customers and their customers’ customers (food processors, manufacturers) to improve their bottom lines and meet sustainability goals.

With GM technology, if they succeed, yep, they’ll sell more seed and make more money, and invest in more R&D—good news for their customers. But also good news for society, as less forest land will be needed to be brought into agricultural production; less water, chemicals applications and fertilizer will be needed to produce a crop; less time will be spent on tractors resulting in a reduction in the burning of fossil fuel and a smaller carbon footprint for agriculture. (As I mentioned today, there are 6 large plant biotech companies today, because it costs a fortune to get through the regulatory process both at home and abroad, and only they have the resources to do so.)

Indi900 karma

Hey Cathy, thanks for doing this AMA. My questions are:

If you had unlimited funding, what would research/develop?

What do you think about the notorious Seralini's Rat Study from 2012?

When I try to voice the facts about GMOs and their benefits to some people I get blamed for being a shill/sheeple/random-made-up-word. What has been the strangest accusation about you that you have encountered in your job?

Again, thanks for doing this AMA. :)

gmoanswers1 karma

Hi Indi90, thanks for your questions!

  1. Thanks for this. I’d like to be able to develop diagnostic tools for identifying the early onset of dementia and therapies to halt progression. Lewy Body Dementia is stealing my dad from me now.

  2. Not too much. One study. Conclusions made that could not be drawn from the data provided.

  3. I get that too. The fact that I’m a scientist is dismissed out of hand. Strangest accusation came from a woman who was so angry she called me a “GMO.” Guilty as charged.

valueape-9 karma

I, for one, welcome our monsanto/dow overlords and their bots. You may be wondering, "Cathy", why i'm suspicious of such a beneficial technology but if you look at the track record these companies have with regard to caring about humans you'd be concerned too. Especially when you get into all the fishy aggressive hostile threatening over-the-top all-out-war they wage against people simply trying to label food products as GMO. So how about that, Cathy, why are you so adamant about not labeling products as GMO?

gmoanswers4 karma

You are cracking me up "Valueape." FDA needs to reserve mandatory labeling for health and safety. (Yep, there have been times when FDA has deviated from this tenet.) Instead why can't we provide the information in a way that works for all, that doesn't villify one technology, that's not loaded with exemptions, that doesn't cost folks on a budget more for food? When I ask the proponents of mandatory labeling to work with us on this...silence.