Bayer Does Consumer Research on Ag Technology

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Adrian Percy, Global Head of Research and Development for the Crop Science Division of Bayer, recently spoke with California Ag Today about consumer opinions on agriculture and ag tech.

“The public trusts farmers. There’s a high degree of trust, and I think that comes from the fact that there is an emotional connection with food, the fact that growers are known to be trying to work sustainably,” Percy said. “Often times, farmers look from generation to generation in terms of passing the farm down, and I think that’s still understood by the public, even if some of the technologies we’re using … people have some reservations about.”

“I mean, it’s not just consumers in the U.S., it’s also in the European markets and South America and in Asia,” Percy explained. “We’re seeing a lot of questions coming up around agriculture, and as an agricultural input company, we think it’s our role to help understand that. And we hope to activate farmers or other folks in the industry to come out and talk about agriculture, enter into dialogue with consumers and explain what we do. I think that’s very important.”

Percy discussed a study that covered different topics, including consumer opinions on innovations in agriculture.

“We looked to a whole bunch of different aspects. One of the things that was also interesting is just asking the general questions about do you believe: that innovation in agriculture is actually important? People came back, ‘Yes, we do believe that we need to innovate. We do see that there’s a need to feed a growing population and that we need to help farmers farm more sustainably with better tools,’” Percy said.

“On the other hand, when we quiz them about the individual tools, that’s where there is a reservation,” Percy explained. “People don’t necessarily like the idea of chemicals on the farm or GM technology in certain cases and certain parts of the world. So those are the types of discussions that we need to really go into.”