GMO Awareness Day: Minneapolis Schools Using Misinformation

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Recently, I saw a press release from Minneapolis Public Schools, sharing that five metro school districts (Hopkins, Minneapolis, Orono, Shakopee, and Westonka) held a “GMO Awareness Day” and are aiming to reduce GMOs in school food.

GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) have prompted much debate in several arenas, from agriculture to politics, at various levels. I applaud these school districts for broaching a topic with so many different facets; however, I am disappointed that these school districts seem to intentionally advocate anti-GMO propaganda.

According to the press release, Laura Metzger, Director of Food and Nutrition Services at Westonka Public Schools, said, “We want to start conversations about the foods we serve and how our decision-making works. Our students will grow up to make their own decisions about the foods they eat, so this is an opportunity for education.” I whole-heartedly agree that starting conversations about food and informing students about the decision-making process are educational opportunities. That’s why, as a farmer, I joined CommonGround ( a group of volunteer farm women who want to engage in conversations about food and agriculture with consumers.

To me, productive conversations happen when we learn about and gain an understanding of another person’s perspective. That’s why I am disappointed that these school districts chose to supply students and their families with only one side of information about food choices. The press release listed the website for the Organic Consumer Association (OCA) and went on to state, “Though there’s been little research on the human health impacts of GMO consumption, animal feeding studies have linked GMOs to cancer, allergies, infertility, and more.” Bertrand Weber, Director of Culinary and Nutrition Services at the Minneapolis Public Schools, stated, “Reducing GMOs is another way we can support kids’ long-term health.”

Had the press release listed a biotechnology website (such as as well as the OCA website, and been more accurate about the research that has been done on health impacts (for both humans and animals) the GMO Awareness Day could have been seen as a genuine effort to educate.

Unfortunately, it appears the GMO Awareness Day aimed to perpetuate misinformation and fears regarding GMOs, rather than giving students the opportunity to learn about all sides of the GMO topic and form their own opinions.

I am a farmer in southwest Minnesota, and you may be wondering why I care about the activities at metro schools. I care because one day, these students will be leaders at companies like Cargill, General Mills, Land O’Lakes, Best Buy, 3M, Target, SuperValu, and Medtronic. One day, these students will be doctors, lawyers, teachers, and policy-makers. One day, these students will be working at the state or federal government level. I care about what these students learn because they will be making decisions that will affect others. That’s why the information presented to these students is important to me; it is vital that the information be factual and without bias so that students can do their own research and form their own opinions 

As a farmer, I have no problem with organic or biotechnological production methods. I do have a problem with false information and fear-mongering. As a consumer, I have no problem with choosing organic or GMO foods for my family. I do have a problem with deceptive marketing and labels. As a parent, I have no problem with schools having educational days about broad topics. I do have a problem with schools presenting fears and misinformation as facts.

I would be interested to learn what the students and parents felt about this type of educational activity, and I encourage all institutions of learning to consider all sides of a highly-debated topic. I also encourage schools to invite farmers into your classrooms so we can learn from each other. I sincerely hope that future activities will be more inclusive and provide resources for all sides of the selected topic.


Kristie Swenson

Kristie Swenson and her husband raise corn and soybeans in southwestern Minnesota. They have two children.

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8 Comments on GMO Awareness Day: Minneapolis Schools Using Misinformation

  1. avatar
    February 5, 2015

    Thank you for your posts about GMO. I am so sick of the lies spread and misinformation and the scare tactics people are using. People only want to hear and believe the lies, not the truth!

  2. avatar
    Lise says:
    February 5, 2015

    I read your post for few weeks now and I notice that you disagree with publications that denounce GMO, factory farms, laboratories that use animals for experiments, new rules for breeding animals that are imposed to you by the government, companies like Chipotle, Costco, Nestle, etc., for animal welfare. You agree with what is denounced by leading researchers. You replicate with other publications made by researchers that are for the GMO, factory farms, etc. These researchers are not independent and there researches are been paid by companies like Monsanto. This research is biased. Never have you agreed with what makes sense because it suits you. As you possess a factory farm, it is clear that the GMO make your case to give to your sows, that laboratories as the US Meat Animal Research Center in Nebraska are doing cruel researches on poor animals to increase your productivity. You do not want that companies and government tell you how to raise your animals because after all, it’s a factory farm, it is impossible to comply with the new rules because you will lose control. It is much easier to restrict the animals in cages because they are easier to control. You approve experiments on animals to find the sources of disease. It takes diseases to prevent human race to multiply. There are not enough resources on earth to feed all human and it won’t improve. We need people to die. Keeping people alive too long need a lot of care and drugs which by the way, were invented by unnecessary suffering of animals. What these poor animals have done wrong to suffer such abuse? Your prisons are full of rapists, killers, bandits of all kinds. It is on these people the experiments should be done. At least, it’s the same race. Drugs like thalidomide was given to pregnant women in the 60 as anti-nausea and the results were horrific. Many babies are born with deformities. Test drugs on animals are not a guarantee. But it costs less because animal life, what is after all. It’s only an animal that doesn’t know what suffering is.

    • avatar
      February 6, 2015

      I am allowing this comment to be viewed. Unfortunately, I do not agree with what you say. And I am disturbed by many of your comments. Thank you for reading my posts and I just ask that you try and look at these issues through the eyes of people who work with animals every single day. They do it because they are passionate. It’s not easy work. If it were not our passion, we would easily find another job that would be much less work and risk. I could speak to each of your allegations and either ask you where you saw this information on my blog or simply tell you what you are saying is not true. But I am not going to do that. It is apparent that we actually share many of the same concerns. We want animals to be treated well and we want people to live a safe and healthy life. And I think it’s those issues that we can have a conversation about. But if you are an animal activist, we will not agree and we probably should just depart ways. Or if you intend to hijack this conversation for your cause, our conversation will cease. I am open to an honest, respectful conversation if you so choose.

  3. avatar
    Dianne McComb says:
    June 26, 2018

    Offer to get movie Food Evolution to show. This movie offers a balanced view of GMOs. Both Neil Degrassi Tyson & Bill Nye are in the movie

    • avatar
      June 26, 2018

      I have yet to see it but heard positive comments about it.

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