Farmers and ranchers have many choices when it comes to growing crops as well as feed for animals. Growing conventional crops, Genetically modified (GM) crops, organic crops or a combination is the choice of a farmer. Many farmers plant GM seeds for specific reasons such as protecting their crops from adverse weather or enhancing yields. However, all methods of production contribute to meeting consumer demands for food products as well as producing healthy choices for everyone and protecting the environment.
Farmers use GM seeds for a number of reasons, including to reduce crop damage from weeds, diseases and insects as well as from adverse weather conditions such as drought or flooding. GM seeds often allow farmers to be more precise about their use of inputs like nutrients, pesticides and water needed to grow crops.
Safety and FDA Review
“FDA has no basis for concluding that bioengineered foods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way, or that, as a class, foods developed by the new techniques present any different or greater safety concern than foods developed by traditional plant breeding.”
Since 1995, food from GM seeds has been commercially available and has been proven safe for human and animal consumption. No other crops have been more studied or subject to greater scientific review. GM seeds undergo testing for safety, health and nutritional value – and regulation is overseen by The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, there is no substantiated evidence of a difference in risks to human health between genetically engineered crops and conventionally bred crops. Research shows that the current commercial crops from GM seeds have the same nutritional properties as non-GM seed crops and are not harmful for humans and animals to consume. In the years that farmers have grown crops from GM seeds, there has not been a single instance of harm to human health.
For roughly 10,000 years, farmers have been genetically altering plants and seeds through selective breeding to improve characteristics such as yield, taste and nutrition. Today’s GM seeds are part of this evolution – their development is sped up and more precise by inserting the genes from one plant into another in a laboratory setting.
Using Fewer Resources to Feed More People
As the world’s population grows and agricultural production land resources stay the same or diminish, GM seeds can be a critical tool in feeding the world without depleting resources or harming the environment. GM seeds can contribute to a reduction in the amount of land, water and chemicals needed to produce more food. This can contribute greatly to conservation and environmental stewardship, in particular preserving our land and keeping soil healthy. Additionally, as seed companies and researchers continue to make new strides in developing crops with the use of genetic engineering, there are increased opportunities to enhance the nutritional profile of foods that are important in developing countries that need nutrient-rich food.
In fact, in June 2016, more than 100 Nobel laureates signed a letter urging Greenpeace to end its opposition to GMOs, and halt its campaign to prevent potentially life saving options for the world’s poor, including Golden Rice. Their campaign states “We urge Greenpeace and its supporters to re-examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide with crops and foods improved through biotechnology, recognize the findings of authoritative scientific bodies and regulatory agencies, and abandon their campaign against ‘GMOs’ in general and Golden Rice in particular.”
As more and more people ask questions about how we as a society grow and raise our food, it is important for consumers to understand GM seeds. Farmers and ranchers have choices and ultimately they select the best practice that fits their business. In addition, consumers have the right to choose what foods they want. Food from GM seeds has the same nutritional characteristics as food from seeds produced through conventional breeding, including organic crops. It is inaccurate to categorize food from GM seeds as harmful to human health because it simply has not been proven. USFRA encourages all consumers to turn to trustworthy, scientifically valid sources of information.
Explore GMO Topics
- What are GMOs?
- What is the approval process for a GMO to come to market?
- What are the benefits of GMOs?
- “GMO” vs. “Non-GMO” – What’s the Difference?
- If an animal is fed GM feed, are the animal products considered GMOs?
- Are these animal products fed with GM feed safe to eat?
- Are GMOs safe to eat?
- Can farmers choose what seeds to grow?
- How does biotechnology in food production address water issues?
- What are the environmental benefits of using GM seeds?