Three Events You Can Organize to Advocate for GMOs on a College Campus
My college, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, like many other schools, has its fair share of GMO skeptics. Understandably, students are concerned about their food and where it comes from. Using science and facts to talk about agricultural science can be difficult because people are emotional communicators. Luckily, at a university, students are more likely to accept fact-based and cause-related arguments. The Collegiate Farm Bureau at UW-Madison works to educate students about agriculture, including GMOs. It’s important to educate and increase students’ familiarity with genetically modified organisms. Here are some ways UW-Madison Collegiate Farm Bureau has advocated for GMOs effectively that you can implement at your own school.
Host a film screening
Collegiate Farm Bureau brought the newly released documentary about GMOs “Food Evolution” to the UW-Madison campus this past October. A fact-based film documentary is a great way to advocate for GMOs. Students enjoy movies and it’s a great social opportunity for your college-aged peers. Movies are also a low-stake event for people to attend, because they do not necessarily have to engage with other people if they feel uncomfortable. Films like “Food Evolution” also present fact-based arguments that college students may be more likely to accept and listen to. It’s essential that the event is advertised widely to non-agriculture groups on campus. Reach out to the liberal arts college and other humanities programs advisors. These staff members are key to reaching students across the campus.
Hand out free food
Agriculture produces food for the world and there’s no better way to remind people about this than to give them free food! The Collegiate Farm Bureau has multiple events during the year where we hand out food with information about where it came from. During our Harvest Handouts Event, we partner with local food association to get food donations and pass it out on campus with information about where it came from. For example, contact your local fruit growers’ association and ask for a donation of apples. In exchange, put their logo on a flyer and the use the apples to advocate for local agriculture. You can also use this as an opportunity to explain which foods are a GMO and which aren’t. Handing out local foods is also an excellent way to make a connection between small local farmers and GMOs. GMOs foods aren’t scary and increasing your fellow students’ familiarity with GMOs can help them become more comfortable with agricultural practices.
Host a panel discussion
Professional speakers and industry professionals are effective ways to engage college students with conversations about GMOs. Collegiate Farm Bureau held a panel last year discussing GMOs. Most college students generally accept industry and academic experts. They are constantly learning from professors and trust the information they receive. Trust is essential in building relationships with other students and giving them information about GMO’s that they won’t ignore. Local university professors research GMO’s are great people to invite to a panel. Students studying everything from music to political science are more likely to trust faculty from their own institution. Scientists from familiar research companies or employees from local businesses are also excellent panel choices. Even having a local farmer come in and speak about how the use of genetically modified organisms has benefited their operation can go a long way in making the issue understandable for students.