By Julian Hattem - 07/30/13 08:33 PM EDT
The effort, the firms concede, is lagging behind anti-GMO campaigns that have raised questions about the safety of industrial agricultural practices.
“We recognize and fully admit that we’re really late to this debate, but we want to go where the conversation is,” Cathy Enright, the coalition’s executive director, told The Hill on Tuesday.
On the website, a team of 40 outside scientists, nutritionists and other experts will endeavor to respond to each question submitted by the public about the safety, development and production of GMOs.
Use of biotechnology is necessary, industry advocates say, to provide a stable source of food for a rapidly growing global population.
“We recognize that all production methods are needed to feed this world,” Enright said. “We’re going to need to do that on less land with fewer inputs, fewer resources, and in the face of challenging climate conditions.”
The debate over GMOs has risen in recent months, as state legislatures have begun to pass laws conditionally requiring labels on genetically modified foods and companies like Whole Foods have pledged to stop selling products unless they are adequately labeled.
In June, Connecticut became the first state to require labels on foods containing GMOs, though the mandate only goes into effect if lawmakers in neighboring states pass similar legislation.
In Congress, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) have introduced the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act requiring labels for foods containing GMOs. The legislation has picked up support from industries and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle but has yet to be passed out of committee.