Friday, May 29, 2015

Safe GMO Foods Have Been Consumed For Years
May 8, 2014 by John Parker | No Comments

Quite often people base decisions on emotion rather than fact. While the largest body of science says genetically modified foods are safe, all too often…

Quite often people base decisions on emotion rather than fact. While the largest body of science says genetically modified foods are safe, all too often people let misinformation and emotion tell them something different.

Farmers and all of the agricultural industry need to do a better job of telling the story of the safety of genetically modified foods. Up to 80 percent of the food from the United States is from genetically modified ingredients. Agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Agriculture Department, the National Academy of Sciences and the World Health Organization, have found no negative health effects from eating genetically modified foods.

Locally, a high percentage of farmer’s plant genetically modified seeds. They know the advantages of these seeds because they result in higher yields, fewer trips over the fields and reduced use of pesticides to grow their crops.

Yet, it is far easier for self-appointed food experts to paint the image of “Frankenstein-type” foods than for agriculture groups to tell the true, factual story of the environmentally friendly and pesticide-reducing features that GMOs bring to the dinner table.

Crops have been genetically modified for well over 100 years. This has been done the slow and tedious method of taking the best, hardiest, disease resistant plants from a field and cross-pollinating them with other plants with like traits. The process develops stronger, healthier and more productive plants such as corn, wheat, soybeans and more.

Interestingly, nature has also genetically modified plants over many years. Left alone, plants themselves, in order to survive, will develop the strongest and best plants through a natural selection process.

In the U.S. 2013 cropping season, 93 percent of soybeans, 90 percent of corn and 90 percent of alfalfa seed sold were GMO based. The story of the beneficial qualities of these crops needs to be widely told and in a way that everyone can understand.

Recently, there has been much discussion about labeling foods that contain genetically modified ingredients, which would create an almost impossible situation because most everything people eat has some modified ingredients, regardless of the source. Also, it would add to the cost of food.

Some estimates say humans have eaten well over 2 trillion meals containing GMO-based ingredients and not one published paper indicates a health concern. People would have been better off if the name “genetically modified organism” was not used and a more easily understood name was found. But one cannot turn back the clock.

Looking at livestock, when an animal eats a GMO crop, it digests it the same as a crop from conventional farming. There is no difference in the meat or milk from these animals.

If farmers are going to continue to provide a plentiful, healthful food supply in this country, using technology like genetically modified crops is essential. They must have the increased yields, reduced environmental impact and less use of chemicals.

These ideas probably don’t carry much weight when most Americans have full stomachs. But let them get hungry and they will be angry with farmers because they are not producing enough for everyone.

Self-styled food experts trying to be sensational or selling a new book need to look at the scientific evidence supporting genetically modified foods and other proven, safe technology. Here again they are playing on emotions, rather than looking at facts. And, they can twist scientific evidence to suit their needs.

Parker is an independent agricultural writer.

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