Our California Olive Tree Farmer Gives us a Taste of the GMO Issue

By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau: You may recall a recent Arizona Farm Bureau article introducing readers to Jamie Johansson, the retail olive farmer from California who happens to be a big advocate of GMO crops.

Well, we've now published his full story in our premiere publication for Arizona's farmers and ranchers: Arizona Agriculture. We've also posted the full article, "A Conversation with a Retail Farmer Who Celebrates GMOs: Jamie Johansson," online for anyone to read.

Jamie Johansson pouring some of his award-winning olive oil for customers. 

But I highlight my top favorite points about the GMO article here for readers who might want the short version.

1. Jamie Johansson grows olive trees in California; but does not grow any biotech (GMO) crops.

2. He supports biotech crops because he personally believes it's a "Tool in the farmer's toolbox" we must have.

3. Even with death threats, he advocated on behalf of biotech crops and non-mandatory labeling.

4. Jamie Johansson, a first-generation farmer, sells about 70% of his olive oil directly to consumers.

5. He identified three groups of people during the run-up to the vote on California's GMO labeling issue (Read the full GMO article to discover the types of groups).

6. Johansson and Farm Bureau's across the country (including Arizona Farm Bureau) support various label programs and a person’s right to voluntarily participate in them to serve a niche market whether it’s organic or more recently the GMO-Free movement (the core disconnect comes around when groups suggest we "mandate" the labeling).

7. When discussing the GMO issue, Johansson advocates focusing on the legitimate request of consumers in terms of what is happening on our farms. 

8. The proponents and the supporters of California's Prop 37 were pretty clear that the ultimate goal would be that GMO labeling has a skull and crossbones driving farmers to not use the technology. 

9. In forums, Johansson tells consumers that he's seen the advantages of this technology and how successfully biotech works on the farm and that it’s another tool for farmers to continue to make American food the tastiest, safest, and most affordable food there is in the world.

10. Says Johansson, "I have confidence in the average Joe that they don’t want to pay for someone else’s politics."

"A Conversation with a Retail Farmer Who Celebrates GMOs: Jamie Johansson" is a detailed account of one farmer's personal experience with fighting the mandatory GMO labeling issue.

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