Wager is well aware of the fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) surrounding biotechnology. So, he uses his training as a biochemist, molecular biologist, and communication to help the public and policymakers separate fiction from fact.
The key, he says, is using simple, understandable language to explain the complexities of a technology that is helping to produce food more sustainably across the globe. “Although the fear is real, the reasons for it are not,” says Wager, an independent scientist, consultant, and speaker based at Vancouver Island University.
“It is clear this technology must be part of the global agricultural toolbox if we are going to produce more food on the same or less land, more sustainably.”
Though much of his science outreach is directed toward decision-makers, Wager recognizes the critical role that public opinion can play in shaping agricultural policies. He devotes significant time to helping consumers understand what many farmers already know: biotechnology is a safe and essential tool that addresses some of the biggest food challenges of our time.
“Farmers are smart and quick to decide if genetically engineered (GE) crops offer benefits over traditional options,” Wager says. “Wherever farmers are given the choice, they overwhelmingly choose to grow GE crops.”
Why? “Simply put, it [biotechnology] has increased yields with reduced environmental impact,” he says.
And that’s important to farmers struggling to feed their families, earn a profit and practice good stewardship of their land while simultaneously supplying consumers with healthy, affordable food.
“Helping the public lose their fear of GE crops and derived foods is crucial,” says Wager, who finds great satisfaction in demystifying biotechnology. “When they learn to disregard the fear stories, favorable policies can ensure this technology is part of future sustainable food systems.”