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(INDIANAPOLIS) – Former Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes says it’s time to tear down artificial trade barriers — and not just tariffs.

Forbes hosted a daylong agricultural innovation showcase in Indianapolis on agricultural innovation. He says the trade abuses President Trump has denounced are real, but he dismisses tariffs as “another word for sales tax,” and says it’s a weapon that ends up pointed at the U-S instead of its intended targets. He says the U.S. should be seeking more narrowly focused responses to create free markets.

But Forbes says tariffs aren’t the only artificial barrier to free trade. He says agribusiness shouldn’t let language shape the debate over genetic modified organisms with terms like “Frankenfoods.” He says that derogatory term stokes fear of what he says should be hailed as breakthrough technology to reduce world hunger. Even “artificial intelligence,” he says, creates an ominous aura around technology — he says it’s the equivalent of calling airplanes “artificial birds.”

Governor Holcomb joined Forbes for an onstage Q-and-A to open the conference. He passed up Forbes’ invitation to explain how the tariffs are affecting Indiana industries, beyond saying they “affect us all.” Holcomb says he’s encouraged by recent reports of trade progress and says he’s hopeful it’ll lead to truly free markets.

Former Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes (left) and Gov. Eric Holcomb (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)