The World Health Organization defines genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. It allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another. Such methods are used to create GMO plants – which result in GMO food crops. This technology is called biotechnology.
U.S. commercially grown genetically modified crops include corn, soybean, cotton, canola, sugar beets, papaya, squash, and alfalfa. In addition, small amounts of GE tomatoes and sweet peppers are grown in China. In terms of our diets, Most of the GM crops that are consumed for food are used in making processed food ingredients included in cereals, soy cooking oil (vegetable oil) and other types of processed food products that contain soy or corn ingredients. In other words, if you see corn or soy ingredients included on the food label, chances are the product was partially made with GM-crop ingredients.
Farmers and gardeners have been creating plant hybrids for as long as they’ve been growing plants. Biotechnology simply serves as a more technologically advanced or controlled method. USDA says that, while particular biotech traits may be new to certain crops, the same basic types of traits are often found naturally in plants and allow them to survive and evolve. This is really nothing new, we are just able to use the traits that can help us to have a more successful harvest.
The soybeans have a herbicide resistant gene in them that was derived from bacteria and corn has Bt genes that allow it to resist pests along with the resistance to herbicides. Bt is a naturally occurring plant pesticide found in other plants and is approved for use in organic agricultural production.
The use of these crops greatly reduces the amount of insecticide required to control the corn borer and the corn rootworm and also allows for improved weed control with reduced herbicide use. This allows farmers to produce more with less, a vital progression as we move forward with the need to feed a growing world population.
We want what is best for our families and I am the first to say you should have questions and concerns about your food.
All GMO foods are exhaustively assessed for safety by groups like the Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In the almost 20 years that modern biotech crops have been commercially grown, there has not been a single documented case of an ecosystem disrupted or a person made ill. GMO foods are nutritionally and chemically identical to food grown from non-biotech crops.
And, ultimately, GM crops can help to provide an increasingly important role in maximizing global land use, addressing world hunger, nutrition deficiencies and poverty issues and reducing agriculture’s environmental footprint.