Are GMOs A-OK?

There’s a little acronym floating around: G-M-O.

Many people have heard of it and many people are strongly skeptical of it; however, many people don’t know what it (a GMO) really is.

This reality is blatantly illustrated in the clip below from the popular late night show, Jimmy Kimmel Live. As Kimmel’s crew makes their way around a local farmers market, they ask numerous people why they avoid GMOS and, more specifically, what the letters G-M-O stand for. As you will see, those with the strongest opinions about GMO’s aren’t even sure what they are, let alone what the acronym stands for.

GMOs are a major topic of discussion today. Across our society, media and the internet, a growing number of people have shared a wide range of questions and emotions on the topic – ranging from excitement and optimism to skepticism and even fear.  But as you saw above, many people do not truly understand what GMOs are and the benefits they bring to the table.

So now you might be wondering, what is a GMO and what does it stand for?  Are GMOs safe for me and my family? Below are the answers to these and many other questions you may have about GMOs.

What is a G-M-O?

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism and is a very common practice in crop production around the world. When creating a GMO, researchers copy specific genetic information from one plant or organism and introduce it into another to improve or enhance a specific characteristic or trait, such as resistance to insects. Developing special traits in plants allows for more food to be grown in more places using fewer chemicals and fewer natural resources

What’s the difference between GMOs and biotechnology?

While the two terms are frequently used interchangeably, biotechnology more closely refers to the process or technology used to create GMOs. You may also see the term “GM”, which of course means “genetically modified.” When you hear farmers talk about “biotech” hybrids or varieties, they are talking about the GM seeds they plant.

Is genetic modification a new thing?

Manipulating genes in plants is an approach that has been used for centuries to make bread, cheese, wine and beer. Today, nearly every food on grocery store shelves has been modified by human hands at the genetic level. The foods we eat are modified using various breeding methods. Breeding alters a plant’s genes so that it expresses new traits. That’s how we get those desirable family favorites such as, seedless watermelons and grapes, red grapefruit, peanuts, honey crisp apples and other foods. GMOs and biotechnology simply accelerate this process. “Everything about science is learning new ways to speed up evolution so that we can come up with crops faster than Mother Nature ordinarily would,” said Dr. Sally Mackenzie, Ralph and Alice Raikes Professor of Plant Science at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. “Genetically modified is a part of our future. If we want to eat with climate change, we will need technologies or we simply won’t survive, and that’s just a reality.”

Are GMOs safe for humans?

To date, more than 2,000 peer-reviewed studies have confirmed that GMOs are safe for human consumption. While there have been a handful of studies that state otherwise, these studies have been roundly debunked by scientists around the world. With over 25 years of independent research, there is no documented evidence of harm to human health or deaths from consumption of GM foods. (National Research Council, European Commission)

Is it safe to eat meat and milk from animals that were fed GMO crops?

Absolutely. A 2012 review of 24 long-term or multigenerational studies found that genetically modified corn, soy, potato, and rice had no ill effects on the rats, cows, mice, quails, chickens, pigs and sheep that ate them. Growth, development, blood, tissue structure, urine chemistry and organ and body weights were normal.

How does genetic modification affect nutrition?

There is no difference. Exhaustive testing and FDA review has confirmed that GMOs are nutritionally the same as their non-GM counterparts. They have the same levels of key nutrients such as amino acids, proteins, fiber, minerals and vitamins.

Additionally, here are the facts about why GMOs are among the safest products on the market today:

  1. Every plant improved through genetic modification is examined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency for potential health risks.
  2. Tests are done on plants before entering the food and animal-feed supply.
  3. Fruits, vegetables and grains from genetically modified crops are indistinguishable from foods developed with other breeding methods.
  4. The FDA has found that GMO foods have the same nutritional value as non-GMO foods.
  5. Out of the trillions of meals consumed that have contained GMO ingredients, not one single substantiated case of harm to human health has been caused by GMOs.
  6. The World Health Organization, American Medical Association, National Research Council, FDA, European Commission and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation all agree that GMOs are safe.

Although frustrating, the clip from Jimmy Kimmel does shed light on the harsh reality that we as farmers face in today’s world: consumers are misinformed about GMOs. As a farmer that raises GMO crops, I am proud of the safe and nutritious food I raise. We farmers feed our families food made with the crops raised on our farms and we can assure you that these foods are extremely safe for you and your family as well.

Leave a Reply


Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Topics you care about