USFRA's Point of View

USFRA supports farmers’ choices to plant and grow conventional crops, GM crops, organic crops or a combination. Similarly, USFRA supports consumers’ choices to purchase foods they prefer. Many of our farmers plant GM seeds for reasons such as protecting their crops from adverse weather. Some of our farmers choose organic production. All of these methods of production contribute to meeting consumer demands for food products as well as producing healthy choices for everyone and protecting the environment.

Farmers also use GM seeds for a number of reasons – 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), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

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 (since 1995), 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 hardiness, 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, possibly adding two billion more people by 2050, and agricultural production land resources stay the same or shrink, 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 helping to save protected 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.

A Commitment to Answering Consumer Questions – and Meeting Their Demands

As more and more people ask questions about how we as a society grow and raise our food, it’s perhaps a good time to take a look at the context. In the middle of the last century people began growing concerned about how we would be able to feed and nourish the growing population, especially in poor and developing countries.

Researchers at agricultural universities began exploring better ways to raise food. Some of what they came up with included genetically modifying seeds to create crops that solve nutritional deficiencies.

USFRA understands that some consumers may have important questions about food from GM seeds. Farmers and ranchers and their industry partners should strive to answer these questions. We encourage farmers and ranchers to share their personal opinions and stories about why they chose to use or not to use GM seeds with consumers. Additionally, we encourage objective, scientifically verified research to uncover additional GM seed potential for human, animal and planet health.

Consumers have the right to choose what foods they want. USFRA supports transparency, which can take a variety of forms, in products grown or produced from GM seeds. 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.

The USDA and FDA state the following:

  • “If a bioengineered food is significantly different from its traditional counterpart such that the common or usual name no longer adequately describes the new food, the name must be changed to describe the difference.
  • If an issue exists for the food or a constituent of the food regarding how the food is used or consequences of its use, a statement must be made on the label to describe the issue.
  • If a bioengineered food has a significantly different nutritional property, its label must reflect the difference.
  • If a new food includes an allergen that consumers would not expect to be present based on the name of the food, the presence of that allergen must be disclosed on the label. To read more click here.

No commercial available food from GM seeds meets these criteria.

USFRA supports farmers’ choices to plant and grow conventional crops, GM crops, organic crops or a combination. Similarly, USFRA supports consumers’ choices to purchase foods they prefer. Many of our farmers plant GM seeds for reasons such as protecting their crops from adverse weather. Some of our farmers choose organic production. All of these...

Questions & Answers

What’s the regulatory approval process for GMOs?

On average, each GM seed variety takes an average of $136 million and 13 years to bring to market because of the research, safety studies and regulatory approval process necessary. No other type of new seed that comes to market from other breeding methods goes through any approval, including the thousands of conventional and organic seeds developed from mutagenesis. Only GMOs are required to be reviewed.

  • USDA conducts a mandatory review on all GMOs to prove they are safe to grow.
  • EPA conducts a mandatory review on GMOs that contain a trait related to “regulated articles”, such as being resistant to insects or herbicide tolerant to prove GMOs are safe for the environment.
  • FDA conducts a voluntary review to prove GMOs are safe to eat.

All data submitted for these approvals can be made publicly available. Further, if new studies from any source come to light that show any harmful effects of an existing GM product, they must be submitted to the regulatory agencies for further review. To date, the FDA has reviewed many studies that questioned the safety of today’s GMOs and have found them not scientifically valid.

“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. (FDA Quote)

 

http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm059098.htm 

Can GMOs really feed a growing population?

As the world’s population continues to grow, possibly by two billion by 2050, and if agriculture’s land resources stay the same or shrink, GM seeds can play a vital role in feeding the world while improving environmental sustainability. 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, GM seeds can help protect the land and keep 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. About 870 million people are estimated to have been undernourished in the period 2010–2012. This represents 12.5 percent of the global population, or one in eight people. The vast majority of these 870 million people live in developing countries, where the prevalence of undernourishment is now estimated at 14.9 percent of the population.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43235#.Ucid6-fCaSo

Today, according to ISAAA (The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications), GM seeds provide extensive benefits to small farmers around the world. More than 90 percent of farmers who use GMOs globally are small farmers or people who resource poor farmers in developing countries. For the first time, more than half, 52 percent, of GM crops were grown in developing nations versus 48 percent for industrialized countries (ISAAA).

http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/agricultural_biotechnology/download/agricultural_biotechnology.pdf

Which foods are GMOs?

Eight crops – corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, papaya 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, large apples and different colored carrots, but these were developed through other breeding techniques.

Further, GM tomatoes, apples, rice and potatoes are currently in the research and development stage and are not available to the market. 

What exactly are GMOs?

From an agricultural standpoint, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), are simply 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, such as resistance to an insect or improving the ripening process in order to better meet a customer’s market need.

This transgenic 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, 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.

If the EU and other regions of the world restrict biotech crops, why don’t we in America?

Fact: The EU has not banned genetically modified crops, contrary to what many believe. Rather, they review traits on a gene-by-gene basis. The EU has an intense review process that some experts say is not always based on scientific research for approvals. According to a May 2012 posting on Nature.com, "In practice, however, the decision whether or not to approve a particular GMO is not solely a scientific issue. Several member states vote, in principle, against approval, irrespective of the scientific opinion delivered by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). In recognition of this dead-lock, the European Commission (EC) has suggested that individual member states should have the right to restrict cultivation of a given GM crop even if there are no scientifically established risks, that is, to adopt restrictions on the basis of socio-economical or ethical grounds."  

http://www.nature.com/embor/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/embor201259a.html

What are the benefits of GMOs in the future?

Researchers and scientists are continually developing new GM varieties and/or hybrids for several specific reasons:

  • Improve environmental stewardship while maintaining yields on less land with fewer inputs; in particular, drought tolerant corn is being introduced to the U.S. market
  • Improve nutrition (for example, healthier soybean oils that eliminate trans fats and contain increased levels of Omega 3)
  • Make foods safer (for example, removing allergens)
  • Disease resistance
  • Pest and herbicide resistance  
  • Better shopping and handling experience (for example, fruits that ripen at the right time, have better flavor and remain fresh longer)

Clearly, these benefits and traits illustrate that genetic modification, conducted in a scientifically sound way, has the potential to provide more healthy and plentiful food for a growing world population. The future may not hold just more yields on less land with fewer environmental impacts, but it may also include the sorghum genus with increased Vitamin A, iron, zinc and improved protein quality, or broccoli with increased antioxidants.

http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=BiotechnologyFAQs.xml&contentidonly=true

Should GM foods be labeled?

USFRA supports voluntary labeling, not vilification. Implying GMOs are bad with a label is wrong. Consumers deserve choices and they can choose to purchase foods without ingredients from GMOs by looking for the “USDA Organic label.” Some companies also voluntarily label products as “non-GMO.” USFRA supports transparency, which can take a variety of forms, in products grown or produced from GM seeds. 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.

The USDA and FDA state the following:

  • If a bioengineered food is significantly different from its traditional counterpart, such that the common or usual name no longer adequately describes the new food, the name must be changed to describe the difference.
  • If an issue exists for the food or a constituent of the food regarding how the food is used or consequences of its use, a statement must be made on the label to describe the issue.
  • If a bioengineered food has a significantly different nutritional property, its label must reflect the difference.
  • If a new food includes an allergen that consumers would not expect to be present based on the name of the food, the presence of that allergen must be disclosed on the label. To read more:
    http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/Allergens/default.htm

http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm352067.htm

http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm059098.htm

Don’t I have the right to know what’s in my food?

USFRA understands that some consumers may have important questions about food from GM seeds. Farmers and ranchers and their industry partners should strive to answer these questions. We encourage farmers and ranchers to share their personal opinions and stories about why they choose to use or not to use GM seeds in their crop production or feed for their livestock. Additionally, we encourage objective, scientifically verified research to uncover additional GM seed potential for human, animal and planet health.

Can livestock eat feed grown from GM crops?

In 2005, the majority of U.S. soybeans (87 percent) and corn (52 percent) were grown from GM seed, and the majority of soybeans (72 percent) and corn (60 percent) are used for livestock feed. So, the farmers and ranchers that provide our meat, milk and eggs depend on genetically enhanced crops as critical components in their animals' feed. Livestock in the U.S. have been fed GM crops since they were first introduced in 1996.
http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/pdf/8183.pdf
http://www.ncga.com/uploads/useruploads/woc_2012.pdf

Are there environmental benefits from using GM seeds?

Yes. Biotechnology is used to develop traits that make crops more tolerable or resistant to plant diseases, pests, 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 and nutritional value. In fact:  

  • The planting of GMOs has resulted in a 379 million lb. reduction in pesticide applications in the U.S. from 1996-2009, saving farmers time and money, while improving our environment.
  • Bt Sweet Corn can be grown with up to 85 percent less insecticide compared to conventional sweet corn.
  • Widespread use of Bt corn has suppressed the devastating European Corn Borer (ECB) so well that the pest no longer threatens U.S. non- GMO corn crops.
  • In 2009, 65 percent of U.S. soybeans grown used conservation tillage, resulting in a 93 percent decline in soil erosion, preserving an estimated one billion tons of top soil. This reduction, in part, was due to GM soybeans, which are resistant to herbicides.

http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/farm-practices-management/chemical-inputs/pesticide-use-markets.aspx

http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/pestsales/07pestsales/historical_data2007_3.htm#

http://ucbiotech.org/answer.php?question=45

http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12804&page=62

How does biotechnology differ from other plant breeding techniques?

For 10,000 years farmers have intentionally changed the genetic makeup of all the crops we grow to produce hardier crops that taste better, resist disease and are easier to grow, all while taking up less land. Today, every commercially available vegetable, fruit and grain has been altered by human hands, even those coming from organic and/or heirloom seeds.

In the 20th century, the demand increased for certain traits in crops. Many people around the world became concerned about the growing use of chemicals and inputs needed to improve yields and wanted to reduce the impact of agriculture on the environment. Hand-in-hand with this concern was the growing need to feed more people as the world’s population grew exponentially. Many people worried about a coming environmental disaster. In response, academia and scientists at companies began intense research to use genetic engineering to produce crops with specific traits to answer these concerns. The result has been seeds that yield more crops, have less impact on the environment and require fewer inputs.

Here is a timeline of human crop manipulation:

  • 10,000 years ago farmers began selective breeding to produce better crops. This means breeding the female and male part of the plant of the same species for specific traits.
  • In the 1700s, farmers and scientists began cross-breeding plants within a species, mixing the genetic makeup of different plants together for new traits. The corn, oats, soybeans, tomatoes, potatoes, rice, wheat and barley that we eat today have been bred to improve pest resistance, yield and taste.
  • In the 1940s, researchers began seeking more genetic variations not easily found naturally in the gene pool of plants. They used a process called mutagenesis, which involves exposing DNA to any number of physical, chemical or biological agents in order to alter the genetic makeup of seeds. They would then plant those seeds and look for new, preferred traits. Many plants on the market today were developed with this technique, which is not genetic engineering, and over the years, more than 2,200 conventional and organic crop varieties have been created with mutagenesis breeding.
  • In the 1990s, the first GM crops were introduced to the marketplace. Genetic engineering or GMO means copying one gene from one plant or organism and placing it into another. This is more precise than any previous method and is possible because scientists are able to code a plant’s DNA and know exactly the genetic makeup of a plant.

http://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/history-of-agricultural-biotechnology-how-crop-development-25885295

http://biotech.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XK&zTi=1&sdn=biotech&cdn=b2b&tm=147&f=00&tt=2&bt=1&bts=16&zu=http%3A//www.mapsofworld.com/poll/should-genetically-modified-foods-be-banned.html

Are there any negative impacts on consumer health from eating GMOs?

No. Crops from GM seeds with in-plant agronomic traits are the same nutritionally as their counterpart crops that aren’t from GM seeds; for example, GM corn has the same nutritional and health properties as non-GM corn, including the same levels of amino acids, protein, fiber, minerals and vitamins. The crops are tested to confirm these nutritional properties, along with being studied extensively and approved by FDA, USDA and EPA to make sure they are safe for people, animals and the environment. Crops from GM seeds that have altered the nutritional quality of plants, for example high oleic soybean oil (which eliminates trans fats) go through this same rigorous regulatory approval processes to ensure consumer safety. To date, few crops with nutritional differences are available, as many are still in the regulatory approval process, specifically foreign market approvals. 

Today’s GM products take an average of $136 million and 13 years (Phillips McDougall, “The Cost and time involved in the discovery, development and authorization of a new plant biotechnology derived trait.” September 2011) to bring to market. In fact, while GM crops go through USDA, EPA and FDA approval processes, crops created through natural selection or selective breeding don’t, despite the fact that many food plants grown in nature (i.e. non-GMO) can be very dangerous to people – for example, certain types of mushrooms, castor beans if not handled properly, apple seeds (which contain cyanide), and the poison in the leaves of rhubarb.

Transgenic biotechnology is safe because it is an extremely precise method of plant breeding based on a complete understanding of the plant’s genetic code. This allows scientists to change a single characteristic or trait in the plant, for example, resistance to an insect or disease, without changing anything else about the plant’s genetic makeup.
 
 
Additionally, there is no scientific data to support claims that GMOs cause new allergies, gluten intolerance, cancers, infertility, ADHD or any other diseases. They are digested in the body the same as non-GMO crops. Since 1996 when farmers first started growing crops from GM seeds, there has not been a single documented instance of human harm, including new allergic reactions to foods produced with them.
 
And lastly, numerous government and scientific organizations have affirmed the health and safety of GM crops:
The National Research Council of the US National Academies of Science
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
The World Health Organization
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
American Medical Association
The Council on Agriculture Science and British Medical Association
The European Commission 
American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Society of Microbiology
British Medical Association
Australian Academy of Sciences
Brazilian Academy of Sciences
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Council for Agricultural Science and Technology
European Food Safety Authority
Federation of Animal Science Societies
French Academy of Science
Indian National Science Academy
Institute of Food Technologists
International Council for Sciences
International Life Sciences Institute
International Union of Food Science and Technology
Italian National Academy of Science
Mexican Academy of Sciences
Royal Society (United Kingdom)
 

Can farmers choose the seeds that work best for them?

Farmers are free to choose the seeds they use to grow their crops based on their specific soil type, the local growing environment, market demand and their personal preferences. They can purchase non-GM conventional seeds, GM seeds or organic seeds. Many farmers choose to use GM seeds to reduce crop damage from weeds, diseases and insects, as well as adverse weather conditions such as drought. Advancements in breeding and seed technologies have allowed many farmers to maintain or improve yield while using less fertilizer, pesticides and water. In other cases, farmers have used GM seeds to save a crop, such as Hawaiian papaya that was threatened by disease.

Through their own research and by working with certified seed advisors, university extension specialists and other professional partners, farmers are in an excellent position to select the right type of seed and the proper mix of inputs to best manage their farm for both profit and environmental stewardship.

USFRA supports diversity, including making non-GM seeds available based on market demand. An important part of maintaining crop diversity is ensuring that practices are in place to reduce cross-contamination of different types of crops and seeds.

Are GMOs really important to feed the world’s growing population? Isn’t that all just hype and marketing?

Fact: By the middle of the century, we may need to grow twice as much food with the same resources to keep up with population growth. We may need to feed two billion more people by 2050. GMOs can be an important solution to this challenge and help protect the environment.

Even in the past 15 years, without GM seeds, more land would have been needed to grow the same amount of crops (see estimates below). This could have meant and could mean in the future turning protected and conserved lands into farms without the use of GM seeds.

The PG Economics seventh annual report on crop biotechnology impacts states that, ’if crop biotechnology had not been available to the (15.4 million) farmers using the technology in 2010, maintaining global production levels at the 2010 levels would have required additional plantings of 5.1 million ha of soybeans, 5.6 million ha of corn, 3 million ha of cotton and 0.35 million ha of canola. This total area requirement is equivalent to 8.6 percent of the arable land in the US, 23 percent of the arable land in Brazil or 25 percent of the cereal area in the EU (27). Being that the amount of arable land is fixed, the need for increased planting would likely have pulled fragile marginal lands and tropical forests into production.'

Do GMOs contribute to super weeds?

Fact: The problem of weed resistance is not limited to GM crops. Weeds are one of the most significant problems for farmers, second only to soil erosion. Controlling weeds can be done by using clean equipment and seeds, rotating crops, applying herbicides, mulching, mowing, tilling, and cultivating. If a farmer repetitively uses the same crop protection product to control weeds, weeds may develop resistance. Crop rotation and employing a variety of weed control options is the best defense against resistance.

Some people say organic crops can produce the same yields as GMOs and conventional crops. Is this true?

  • Fact: A recent Nature article stated: ’Crop yields from organic farming are as much as 34 percent lower than those from comparable conventional farming practices, the analysis finds.’ McGill University in Montreal and the University of Minnesota performed an analysis of 66 studies comparing conventional and organic methods across 34 different crop species. Additionally, according to the FAO, we must increase food production by 70 percent by 2050 to feed an estimated 9 billion people.
  • The PG Economics seventh annual report on crop biotechnology impacts states that, ’if crop biotechnology had not been available to the (15.4 million) farmers using the technology in 2010, maintaining global production levels at the 2010 levels would have required additional plantings of 5.1 million ha of soybeans, 5.6 million ha of corn, 3 million ha of cotton and 0.35 million ha of canola. This total area requirement is equivalent to 8.6 percent of the arable land in the US, 23 percent of the arable land in Brazil or 25 percent of the cereal area in the EU (27). Being that the amount of arable land is fixed, the need for increased planting would likely have pulled fragile marginal lands and tropical forests into production.'
  • When initially released, yield drag may have an area of concern for GMOs. With time and breeding techniques, herbicide and insect resistance traits have been incorporated into high-yielding germ plasm, resulting in better yields.

What percentage of U.S. crops are GMO?

  • Corn: 90%
    • Sweet Corn
    • Field Corn
  • Soybeans: 93%
  • Cotton: 90%
  • Canola: 90%
  • Sugar Beets
  • Squash
  • Papaya
  • Alfalfa

http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered-crops-in-the-us.aspx#.UfFqm9LCaM4

GM seeds mean agribusiness ’owns’ seeds and hurts farmers, right?

  • Fact: Seed has been patented in the United States since the 1930s. The ability of universities, seed companies and individuals to patent their developments has spurred improved products that have significantly increased agricultural productivity. Farmers are very familiar with their choices of whether or not to buy patented seeds.
  • GMOs give farmers, regardless of the size of their operations, the potential to increase productivity and profitability by planting seeds with specialized value-added traits and resistance to insects, viruses and disease. GMOs have not been proven to be harmful, is effective and widely used by more than 16 million farmers around the world. Large and small scale farmers across the world recognize the value of GM crops and the graph below shows the global area of GM crop adoption.

How does food from GMOs differ from non-GMO food?

  • Fact: Crops from GM seeds are identical to those from non-GM seeds. In addition, organic foods are identical in nutritional value to non-organic foods.
  • "The nutritional value of GMO foods is tested and compared against non-GMO foods. Numerous studies have shown no nutritional difference between commercially available GMO and non-GMO foods. In fact, genetic modifications can actually improve nutritional content for some foods."--Dr. Peggy Lamaux, Cooperative Extensions Specialist at the University of California, Berkeley as quoted on Bestfoodfacts.org.
  • Proteins used in GMOs are not allergenic, and these proteins do not appear in commercial oils or in the meat, milk, or eggs or animals fed with genetically modified foods.
  • Some people believe that GM seed use for commercial crops is widespread in whole fruits and vegetables. Commercially available crops from GM seeds only include corn, soybean, cotton, canola, alfalfa and squash (viral resistant) and nothing beyond that. Fruits and vegetables from GM seeds are not commercially available. Any changes in those crops are not the result of GMOs. For example, seedless fruits available today are the result of conventional breeding, not genetic modification.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of GM seeds?

Advantages:

  • Can increase yields grown on the same or less acreage.
  • Can reduce crop damage from weeds, diseases and insects, which means herbicide applications are more precise or used more efficiently. http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12804&page=62
  • Can reduce crop damage from adverse weather conditions.
  • Can potentially improve nutritional value or other health benefits (seeds in development).
  • Can improve soil through conservation tillage made possible by herbicide resistant crops and reduced soil compaction (fewer trips across the field with equipment).
  • Can reduce fossil fuel use (fewer trips across the field with equipment).
  • Can improve water quality (more precise use of chemicals).
  • Can reduce costs and labor intensity for farmers.
    • Example: GM seeds are being used and studied to help save Hawaii’s papaya crops from eradication from Papaya Ring Spot Virus (PRSV).

http://hawaii.gov/hdoa/pi/ppc/cm_prv

  • When planting corn, GM seeds have reduced soil loss by 69 percent due to conservation tillage practices. 

http://www.keystone.org/images/keystone-center/spp-documents/2011/Regional_Transmission_Projects/Field-to-Market_Environmental-Indicator_First_Report_With_Appendices_01122009.pdf

  • Recent advancements in soybeans created a new oil with health benefits for consumers’ including less saturated fat. Additionally, theses oils have shown improved shelf life. Pending final approvals outside the U.S., consumers can anticipate these benefits in the near term.

http://www.soyconnection.com

http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12804&page=62

Disadvantages:

  • Despite the fact that crops from GM seeds and plants produced using genetic engineering undergo more safety testing than any other agriculture products, including conventional or organic crops, some people believe more research needs to be done.
  • The ability to protect GM seed plants from herbicides that destroy weeds may lead to herbicide resistant weeds. In addition, overuse of a single pesticide when growing GM seed crops may lead to a pesticide resistance in insects. The agriculture industry takes these threats seriously and is constantly studying and creating best practices. http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12804&page=214
  • The names used to describe GM seeds ’ including GMO and genetically engineered ’ can sound threatening to consumers and create a marketing disadvantage for products with ingredients from GM seeds.

How are farmers and ranchers improving with the use of GM seeds in America?

According to the 2010 report of the National Research Council of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences "The Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States" concludes:

  • Farmers are using better tillage conversation methods with the use of genetically engineered crops.
  • Farmers are using less intense herbicides with some GM seed crops. Glyphosate binds quickly to the crop and expires in a short amount of time, reducing environmental impact.
  • With continued research and development, GM seeds in years are posed to produce better yields, improve nutrition benefits of certain crops, use less water, and allow for the increasingly precise use of fertilizers and pesticides.

http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12804#toc

Food Dialogues: Iowa

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Food Dialogues®: North Carolina - Panel 1 Audience Q&A

What are GMOs, and where, how and why are they used?

Biotechnology and H-tech or Low-tech, Can't We All Just Get Along?

Biotechnology (GMOs) & Your Food

Is the media shaping consumer perception about GMOs?

Is there sufficient dialogue in the U.S. about biotech crops?