A few months ago, I went to Trader Joe’s to do some grocery shopping. That day I happened to be wearing my “GMOs are safe/Vaccines work/Everything is a chemical” t-shirt - because this is totally what someone wears when shopping at a store whose products don’t contain GMOs. When I was checking out, the cashier asked about my shirt. Her initial response: “I agree with the vaccine thing, and everything is a chemical, but the GMOs… I guess I’m ok with eating them myself, but I wouldn’t feed them to a small child.”
I couldn’t have asked for an easier comment to which I could respond. She wouldn’t feed GMOs to a small child? With a smile, I told her that I have two little dudes of my own, and that I don’t make food choices for them based on plant breeding methods. Her response was interesting - she asked if I was a scientist or plant breeder. I explained that I was just a regular person who liked to make decisions based on evidence, but that I’m also particularly interested in these topics (and yeah, I dropped the info about the “Science Moms” film because why not).
At this point, I’d paid for the groceries, and gotten a “I never thought about it like that” from a person I’d never met before. The cashier wished me well on my movie, and said that she wanted to learn more about plant breeding. And this was all because I chose to wear that t-shirt.
I think back to a conversation that Dan and I had with Vance Crowe when he guested on our podcast. We talked about this idea of changing minds. It all starts with personal connection - reading social cues, figuring out who you’re talking to, and meeting that person where they are at that moment. It’s about the delivery of the message just as much (or more?) than it’s about the content of the message itself.
Obviously not every casual conversation about biotechnology is going to end with a former naysayer declaring that they want to learn about plant breeding. But I guess I wanted to share that it’s possible. Whether we’re talking GMOs, vaccines, organic food, or alternative medicine - it’s possible to be that catalyst that causes someone to reflect on, and possibly change, their previously held beliefs.