What are GMOs?

WHAT ARE GMOS?

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), are plants developed through a process in which a copy of a desired gene or section of genetic material from one plant or organism is placed into another plant to achieve a desired trait. This could be resistance to an insect or drought resistance which allows a crop to grow in much drier areas, conserving water and other environmental resources.

This type of biotechnology is an extremely precise method of plant breeding based on a complete understanding of the plant’s genetic code, allowing scientists to change a single characteristic or trait in the plant without changing anything else about the plant’s genetic makeup.

Biotechnology is used to develop traits that make crops more tolerable or resistant to plant diseases, pests and extreme environmental conditions such as drought, and specific plant herbicides. These traits not only help keep plants healthier but can also help maintain or improve our environment. For example, herbicide tolerant crops allow farmers to use less tillage which reduces nutrient runoff and soil erosion (helping our rivers) and retain additional soil moisture (requiring less irrigation) all while maintaining yield, nutritional value and handling experiences.

WHICH FOODS ARE GMOS?

Ten crops – corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, papaya, potatoes, apples and squash – are available from GM seeds for commercial use in the U.S. These crops have been developed primarily for herbicide tolerance and insect and disease resistance; helping farmers to maintain yield while reducing the level of inputs needed and protecting the environment. A few of the above mentioned crops are credited with saving specific crops from disease.

Produce items are often mistaken for being GMO, including things like pluots and different colored carrots, but these were developed through other breeding techniques.