NAICC: How We Start To Explain GMOs

These are questions we hear at work; in the store; and at family gatherings, church and many other places. ( AgPro )

There is much talk about foods containing GMOs. Are they safe? Should they be labeled? They aren’t real and natural foods, right? Non-GMO is always better, right? These are questions we hear at work; in the store; and at family gatherings, church and many other places. There is one thing for certain: people have a lot of questions about GMOs. So, in my next few articles, I am going to address these questions and share what I might say when given the chance to talk to others about GMOs and why agriculture needs them. Here are a few starting points:

ARE THEY SAFE?

There has never been a single confirmed report of a person becoming sick or dying as a direct result of consuming food from GMO crops. Thousands of people die of starvation every day. Can GMO crops save them all? No. Unfortunately, many factors contribute to starvation. However, in the future, growers may not be able to produce enough safe and affordable food to feed the world’s ever-growing population without GMO crops.

SHOULD THEY BE LABELED?

I don’t particularly agree that they should. They’ve been shown to be safe for consumption and, other than the modified gene, not significantly different from conventional foods. I do understand the debate. However, to me, foods that were never commercially available as a GMO should never be labeled as non-GMO. GM wheat, rice, peanuts, oranges and peaches, for example, have never been available. Fewer than a dozen crops commercially available in the U.S. have GMO varieties available. The problem with labeling is that when you put a “does not contain GMOs” label on an orange juice container, you are basically putting a poison label on all other orange juices. Does the non-GMO label make that particular orange juice worth more than one without the label? It shouldn’t because all orange juice is made from non-GMO oranges. It doesn’t seem right to me to charge more for a product just because a consumer isn’t aware that there is no such thing as GMO oranges.

THEY AREN’T REAL AND NATURAL FOODS, RIGHT?

All crops used for food have been bred and “modified” for many years. Since the beginning of agriculture on this planet, we have gathered seeds from plants with the traits we desire and used them for the next year’s crop. Corn provides an excellent example of the extreme change we can make to a species just through traditional breeding. Several Brassica plants such as broccoli, cabbage and kale are other examples. Today, our level of technology allows us to speed up these processes to identify and select for desirable traits much more quickly and efficiently. GMO varieties are developed in many ways, and I will discuss this in more detail in a future article.

NON-GMO IS ALWAYS BETTER, RIGHT?

My wife and I operate a private contract research organization. Some of our work involves gathering data on GMO crops. The data are later used with data collected from many other locations to approve or reject commercial approvals. I grew up farming, and if I hadn’t gotten involved in research, then I may have believed that non-GMO varieties were possibly safer than their GMO counterparts. Companies that develop GMO varieties spend millions of dollars annually to conduct trials and gather data to prove to themselves and the world that their GMO varieties are safe. Every step of the process from our work in the field to the analysis of samples we send to labs is overseen by the USDA and even the Environmental Protection Agency in some cases. Seeing the process and the oversight has helped convince me that GMOs are rigorously tested and safe. Please join me in the next issue as we discuss this further.

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Submitted by Kenn on Tue, 05/29/2018 - 06:37

"Corn provides an excellent example of the extreme change we can make to a species just through traditional breeding." OK, explain to me how a corn plant can have successful reproductive sex with a soil bacteria (where the roundup ready gene comes from)? Under what natural conditions would that have occurred and just how was it that we were able to speed up that natural process? Explain to me how a strawberry and a flounder (a fish that lives at the bottom of the sea) can have successful reproductive sex? Again, under what natural conditions would that occur? Can you provide a timeline on that? GMO breeders inserted the flounder gene in a strawberry to keep it from damage from frosts. If you are allergic to fish and ate one of these strawberries that wasn't labeled, who is responsible for the damage due to an allergic reaction? Oh, yeah, I remember, this is nothing different that we've done for thousands of years. Perfectly natural.

Submitted by Jacob mcdaniels on Tue, 05/29/2018 - 19:34

Some answers are easy. How did weeds such as marestail, palmer and waterhemp become roundup resistant? To say it cant happen in nature is simply wrong because it already has. As for your alergy question, is a person allergic to the whole fish? Or just one specific part? There is talk of a new gmo peanut (something that several are allergic too) that will remove the offensive gene so that it can be enjoyed by all. Why not keep an open mind?

In reply to by Kenn (not verified)

Submitted by Kenn on Wed, 05/30/2018 - 10:41

Sorry, Jacob. The roundup resistance was an adaption of nature, not a natural breeding process. So fish mating with strawberries naturally, has not occurred. I worked in the seed industry for many years and have worked with GMO breeders on a project. They told me too many of the deep dark secret fears of what will go wrong with the present GMO breeding course. I had an open mind but these guys fears were so disturbing that it changed my mind. They are too deep into their careers to be able to change the course of breeding now, or spill the beans. I won't go into it here because I don't need yet another visit from mother M and her goons.

In reply to by Jacob mcdaniels (not verified)

Submitted by Marcuscassius on Wed, 05/30/2018 - 12:26

An open mind? We've had these food products out there for 40 years. We have continually asked for definitive studies on the lng tern effects of Roundup and GMO's on humans. 40 years!!! YOU keep an openmind. Do what we asked you. Stop spending hundreds of millions to convince us of something you can't provide proof for.

In reply to by Jacob mcdaniels (not verified)

Submitted by Robert Wager on Thu, 05/31/2018 - 11:09

Did you know we share ~50% of our genes with bananas? Genes have been moving around in nature since there were genes. With GE technology we just do it with precision.

In reply to by Kenn (not verified)

Submitted by Kenn on Fri, 06/01/2018 - 07:26

Robert, We just do it now with precision? If you mean the precision of doing brain surgery with a double bit axe, then yeah, it's precise. The gene insertion does not just neatly slice into the gene strand to insert the new gene. It ribs a gash and slaps the new gene in the area. It is not like splicing a video tape. It's more like using a chain saw to castrate livestock. That was one of the great fears that the GMO breeders I worked with had. We don't know the consequences of the gene sequence tear, or if they really heal like we think they will. We just don't know. But the bought-and-paid-for "scientists" just keep telling us not to worry. They've got it handled ($$$$$$$$).

In reply to by Robert Wager (not verified)

Submitted by marcuscassius on Wed, 05/30/2018 - 12:21

I get a little tired of hearing about how people haven't been proven to get sick directly from GMO where there is a proven link. What a load. Tobacco used exactly that same ploy for 70 years, while millions died. We are NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR PROVING YOUR FOOD IS UNSAFE! YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE TO PROVE THEY ARE SAFE. AND YOU HAVEN'T! Did you hear me that time? The difference between tobacco and GMO's is that we were allowed to choose if we wanted to smoke. We aren't allowed to know when we are being poisoned with these new bioweapons. And we are being charged for the privilege of getting cancer.

Submitted by Robert Wager on Thu, 05/31/2018 - 11:13

Seems the European Academies of Science said exactly that.

""There is NO VALIDATED EVIDENCE that GM crops have greater adverse impact on health and the environment than any other technology used in plant breeding...There is compelling evidence that GM crops can contribute to sustainable development goals with benefits to farmers, consumers, the environment and the economy...It is vital that sustainable agricultural production and food security harnesses the potential of biotechnology in all its facets." EASAC-Planting the Future report 2013

The same opinion of every National Academy of Science that has expressed an opinion on the subject.

In reply to by marcuscassius (not verified)

Submitted by Kenn on Fri, 06/01/2018 - 07:13

Robert, "science" has become- pay me enough money, tell me what you want the results to be, and we'll get you there. Paid "science" has no integrity left, and the public knows it. Even if it is correct, we still don't trust it because we all know that it is bought-and-paid-for. Any "science" that one side presents and the other side disagrees with is labeled as bad science, misused, or just propaganda. This goes for all sides. Real science is not opinion, it's not hypothesis, it's not conjecture, and it's never settled. Real science is replicable, it's transparent, and it begs to be challenged. "Science" sold it's soul for money and is now reaping the whirlwind of mistrust that they aptly deserve.

In reply to by Robert Wager (not verified)