Recently, Consumer Reports unveiled a new report that supports the organization’s call for mandatory GMO labeling.
Following Consumer Reports’ article, CBS News ran a story on the issue and, from what we understand, it wasn’t completely balanced.
To correct faulty information in stories like the one from CBS, we often write about GMOs here on the blog. In fact, we’ve written about GMOs a lot here on the blog, and even written about GMO labeling, too.
Despite the information that we continue to push out, we started wondering. How many people are against GMOs just because they’ve been told they should be against them? How many people know what they’re fighting against?
Turns out, we weren’t the only ones with that question. In fact, Jimmy Kimmel was curious, too:
Obviously, Jimmy is in the business to be funny — and the clip did have us chuckling. But it’s actually kind of a serious problem. Most of the people in Jimmy’s segment were dead-set against GMOs, but they didn’t know why.
So we thought it might be a good idea to offer up some general GMO information and let those of you who might have questions make up your own minds. Now, we are a little biased, but we’ll try to leave the commentary out as much as possible.
- So, what are GMOs? Well, we can look to the USDA for a pretty good definition:
- The term “genetically modified organism” (GMO) was originally used by the molecular biology scientific community to denote a living organism that had been genetically modified by inserting a gene from an unrelated species. Incorporation of genes from an unrelated species does not occur in nature through sexual reproduction and thus, various types of sophisticated technologies are used to accomplish this. These types of plants are generally called “transgenics”. Transgenic technology has been used in over 40 species of plants including corn, cotton, tomatoes, potatoes, soybeans, tobacco, rice, cranberries, papayas, raspberries, chrysanthemums, gladioli, petunias, poplars, spruce, and walnuts. In crop plants, the technology has generally been used to incorporate insect resistance or herbicide tolerance.
- In other words, a GMO is a plant, crop, food or something related to those things that was created with biotechnology. There are several kinds of GMOs, all of them involve taking a gene from one species and putting it into another unrelated species. (from Janice Person at A Colorful Adventure)
- Why do farmers choose to plant GMO/biotech seeds and crops?
- The superior weed control from GM crops requires farmers to till much less often. That has led to improved soil health and water retention, reducing runoff and greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. GMO opponent turned advocate Mark Lynas does an excellent job explaining — and providing sources — in this article.
- Insect-resistant GM crops have greatly reduced the amount of insecticide applied to insect-protected crops
- Plants modified to tolerate drought enable crops to retain yields while consuming less water.
- How do GM crops benefit me?
- GMO crops are instrumental to our ability to keep pace with growing global food needs. By 2050, the global population is expected to rise to an estimated 9.6 billion people, and we will need 70 percent more agricultural production to meet that challenge.
- What about safety?
- There is a complex evaluation process to determine safety of GMO crops; every GM product is analyzed extensively and compared with the composition of conventional lines grown. Scientific and peer-reviewed articles show that GM crops are compositionally equivalent to their conventional counterparts. Plus, the FDA and USDA both review crops used for food and animal feed for safety and impacts on the environment.
- A writer at Forbes magazine just broke down a trillion-meal study to determine the safety of GMOs. In the study, University of California-Davis Department of Animal Science geneticist Alison Van Eenennaam and research assistant Amy E. Young reviewed 29 years of livestock productivity and health data from both before and after the introduction of genetically engineered animal feed. The article is an excellent piece and examines evidence from both the pro- and anti-GMO crowds.
- And one last thing: Did you know that humans have been changing plan genomes for generations? In fact, without genetic modification we wouldn’t have one of our favorite vegetables – broccoli! With genetic engineering, we just have new, more precise tools.