@Amy_Proulx mentions:

This is worth delving in a little deeper. How is the situation in different countries? What’s being done about it? What works, and what doesn’t?

This is the recent report I was referencing. Social connections, friends, family, all play a more vital role for individuals to learn about food choices. Release: New Canada's Food Guide offers a more affordable plate, and greater food security‑‑but that may not last - Faculty of Management - Dalhousie University

What is intriguing about this report as well, is the intentional circumventing of traditional peer review. Anyone and anyone can put up reports and information online. Anyone can start an academic journal. Plenty of predatory journals exist in this space. How is anyone to know better in a crowded and cluttered information space? The need for education and science literacy is higher than ever.

This also ties in with the discussion we had about Kenyan farmers trusting tradition over technology.

@PaulineB, @otomololu, @lsroades, @autumnbarnes, what are your thoughts on misinformation about food in general? How does this manifest itself differently in different parts of the world?

Amy Prious raises an interesting point: cultural factors, tradition, and environmental conditions play key roles in forming opinions about both production and consumption of food. Many of those traditions and cultural habits are retained by younger generations too, even if they may be exposed to more scientific information. Cassava, for example, an African staple, contains arsenic: it has to be prepared exactly the right way to avoid toxicity. Yet, when promoted in western countries, that fact is not often noted. Food preparation is also a form of social identity in many non-western countries, a way to assert ones nationality, social class, or “authenticity.” So the technology vs tradition debate is not necessarily a debate about misinformation. One need only look at the debate over GMO to see that scientific information is not the main deciding factor in food choices among those who oppose the technology.

@PaulineB “One need only look at the debate over GMO to see that scientific information is not the main deciding factor in food choices among those who oppose the technology.” EXACTLY.

People believe in climate change because the bulk of the scientific evidence supports that the climate is changing and humans are contributing to it. Those same people are quick to overlook that the bulk of scientific evidence supports that GMOs are safe.

The lack of scientific literacy in general is a problem. It is a problem for consumers who don’t know how to critically assess information that drives their purchasing. It is also a problem for growers when they are trying to critically assess products and practices they can adopt on their farms.

Educating growers about the scientific method and basic statistics have huge value.

Saying “GMO’s are safe” is an oversimplification, and really looking at it wrong. It’s not the genetic modification that needs to be looked at, it’s the traits and impacts. Creation of plants specifically tolerant to certain chemicals has led to a massive chemical dependency, and now the courts are finding that the chemical causes cancer. If true, that’s bad right? A sudden withdrawal of this chemical will have massive and far reaching negative implications. That’s bad too! @PaulineB cultural factors have been the bane of the clean cookstove efforts. Solving the future of food will be very, very challenging. We are promoting what we call "The INFEWH-ture Project which is Informatics at the Nexus of Food Energy Water and Health. Data and personal context! We have the tools now to clearly show the health implications of what we eat. When we solve food insecurity, if we do it right, we solve healthcare, the environment, and the economy in one fell swoop!.

@NickOttens, I think it depends on the environment one is exposed to. People in areas where traditional farming is in vogue would be misinformed about GMO. They would probably be against the consumption of inorganic foods.

I know that I’ve been doing a lot of advocacy on linamarin and residual cyanide in cassava products recently, finding appropriate technology for cassava processors to reduce barriers to market entry. Right now there is no regulatory barrier to entry for cassava products with respects to arsenic into most markets, rather it is focused on rice products.

Herbicide tolerant crops are not the only crops reliant on chemicals for pest control and there are lots of great innovators looking to further minimize pesticide use. WeedIT, Blue River Tech and others are developing technology to sense and spray specific weeds instead of spraying whole fields. They have capability to reduce herbicide use by 80%. Even life science companies are investing in tech to reduce pesticide use like variable rate fungicide applications. GPS and other sensors on virtually every piece of field equipment means overlaps and oversprays are rare.

Use patterns are important. The dish soap I use to clean my dishes (which my family then eats off of) is dangerous if being used improperly.

There is a misconception among some circles that GMOs, conventional ag, large farms, etc are unsafe or undesirable. I am grateful for our science-based regulatory system in Canada. Also I am apprehensive about the pressure put on regulators by the public who may not have a strong grasp of what these systems actually look like. A lot of conventional growers feel misunderstood and there are several initiatives trying to address misconceptions but it often seems like an uphill battle.

@ACESChris I had a quick look at your website, looks pretty cool! Any projects in the prairies? Quite a few feedlots and ILOs in my area (Lethbridge). I have heard of a methane digester in Central Alberta but nothing in the south that I’m aware of?

Science to inform decision-making. That is exactly right. Science literacy as a whole, or lack thereof, means we put decision-makers, ie politicians into roles where decisions are made with impacts that can last a lifetime.

I note artificial intelligence will reduce our usage of various pesticides. Colleagues of mine are working on robotic technology for agricultural monitoring. Ironically, he struggles to find qualified people to work for him, and struggles to find farmers with the tech capabilities to implement his technologies. Root cause is lack of science and technology literacy.

Sharing food choices through social media has become increasingly important, particularly for millennials, therefore standout food concepts are thriving. Today, its an emerging trend to sharing a complaint on Twitter, posting a viral message on Facebook or opening an e-petition, food lovers are having their say. They are not only voting with their purchasing choices, but also highlighting poor practices on social media, forcing food services companies to take a stance.

Cultures and geaography also greatly influence cooking and food habits. There are a few slightly more unusual trends that found their way in 2019, such as fortified ice creams, vegetable desserts, mood-enhancing ingredients and protein-packed chips already became popular due to social media.

Millennials have come to the realization that everything they put in their stomach has a long-lasting impact on their bodies other than the short-term effect of tantalizing their taste buds. The need for healthy food is taking over the market.