What are the benefits of GMOs, both today and in the future?
Today’s GMO crops are developed with specific benefits in mind, both for the farmers who grow them and the consumers who purchase them. Some of those benefits include:
- Fewer inputs (like water or pesticides) needed to grow food, on less land than ever before. Drought resistant GMO crops and Bt crops (which allow farmers to use fewer to no pesticides) are two examples of how GE technology can be used by farmers to farm more sustainably, in ways that positively impact their communities.
- Crops that are genetically engineered to fight diseases are saving not only the foods we love, but the industries that grow them. Genetic engineering was used to save the Hawaiian Rainbow papaya from a deadly virus which threatened to wipe out the crop, and the industry. Today, the Florida citrus industry faces the same threat, and GMOs may be able to help.
- Herbicide tolerant crops allow farmers to use less or no-till farming methods. These methods of farming reduce nutrient runoff and soil erosion, which helps our rivers, and requires less irrigation because it retains additional soil moisture, all while maintaining the crops’ yield, safety and nutritional value.
- GMOs are taking on food waste. New potatoes that are genetically engineered to resist bruising during shipping and handling are coming onto the market, and new apples that resist browning when sliced will reduce food waste in the market and kitchen!
- Foods with enhanced nutritional profiles, both in the US and abroad. Today we have GMO soybean seeds that produce healthier soybean oils, eliminating trans fats and containing increased levels of Omega 3. Tomorrow we hope to have bananas in Uganda that have up to six times as much Vitamin A, or Golden rice (rice that produces and accumulate Vitamin A) available to the millions of children who suffer from Vitamin A deficiency globally every year.
And there are more potential benefits on the horizon. Scientists around the world are working on a number of GM seed varieties that could deliver several benefits in the future. For example, GE technology has the potential to create a hypoallergenic peanut.
These benefits and traits illustrate that biotechnology, conducted in a scientifically sound way, has the potential to provide more healthy and plentiful food for a growing world population.