What is GMO?

Mention GMO to people, and you will get a variety of reactions. It has been said that GMO wheat causes celiac disease, when in fact there is no such thing as GMO wheat. While others believe GMO is bad for you or poisonous, however, the real issue is people don’t understand what GMO is. It is human nature to fear the unknown. So, what is GMO? We know it is a “new” process used to genetically modify a plant or animal to improve a desired characteristic. The outcome is similar to selective breeding which has taken place for centuries, selectively breeding animals and plants to develop a desired trait.

Selective breeding is selectively breeding plants and animals over time, to evolve desired trait(s), by trial and error.  The Nez Perce Indians selectively bred horses for their beautiful spotted coloring, originating the Appaloosa horse breed as we know it today. Gregor Mendel did selective breeding with peas in the 1800s creating new varieties of peas. The Mesoamericans spent several hundred years transforming an inch-long seed head into (Maize) the delicious sweet corn that we enjoy today. GMO genetically modified organism, on the other hand, is the scientific process of taking a gene with a desired trait from a plant or animal and inserting that gene into another plant or animal to improve characteristics of that plant or animal. GMO golden rice was genetically engineered to be a good source of beta carotene, which can help prevent premature death and blindness for children in third world countries. It is estimated that in underdeveloped countries, beta carotene deficiency in young children kills over 600,000 each year under the age of 5 and causes an additional 500,000 go blind.

Both methods Selective Breeding and GMO change the original plant or animal to improve desired traits.   The drawback with selective breeding, undesired traits can be passed on in the selective breeding process, with GMO you target a specific trait to be passed on, and only that trait is passed on, and you do not have the issue of passing on undesirable traits as you can have with selective breeding. Also, selective breeding takes much longer to achieve desired results than GMO.

GMO process has improved productive qualities that make crops more resistant to disease, insects, drought, and enriching nutrient content. Because of these dynamic developments, increased productivity and efficiency, fewer chemicals are used, creating a cleaner environment. 

  List of current and future GMO foods  

·       Apple developed to be non-browning

·       Potato that reduces browning and black spot

·       Field Corn insect resistant, herbicide, and drought tolerant.

·       Canola herbicide-tolerant

·       Alfalfa herbicide-tolerant

·       Soybean longer shelf life, herbicide-tolerant, and insect resistant

·       Papaya disease resistant

·       Cotton insect resistant and herbicide tolerant

·       Sugar beet herbicide-tolerant

·       Sweet Corn insect resistant and herbicide tolerant

·       Golden Rice good source of beta carotene

·       Summer squash disease resistance

GMO has a Promising Future   

Scientific Reports Feb 2018 observed 76 studies where they found GMO corn had significantly higher yields and fewer toxins than non-genetically modified corn. GMO corn was developed to resist corn rootworm, which causes damage to ears causing fungi to spread. As a result, farmers use fewer pesticides, herbicides, and have increased yields. GMO is safe; millions of dollars go into developing and testing a GMO product before it is placed on the market. Next time someone says GMO is bad for you, let them know, the benefits of increased productivity, better taste, and less use of harsh chemicals. GMO is going to be the way of the future to stave off world hunger and support a greener planet. When our farmers plant a field of GMO crops, they produce more, with less land, fewer chemicals, less emissions, and less manpower. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

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