Kellie Blair

GMO Foods

Kellie Blair, a farmer and agronomist from Dayton, Iowa, spends her time working with numerous agriculture organizations and blogging about family life on the farm. Hear her explain the benefits of GMO crops and the use of biotechnology in farming.

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Are GMOs Safe?

Industry scientists test the safety of GMOs by comparing the GM plants with conventionally bred plants of the same variety, and they overwhelmingly agree that GMO foods are safe to eat.1

The World Health Organization also reports that current GMO foods have passed human-health-risk assessments and that no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of biotech foods.2


What are GMOs?

Farmers and gardeners have been creating plant hybrids for as long as they’ve been growing plants. GMOs are simply more technologically advanced hybrids.1

The World Health Organization defines GMOs as organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. To create GMOs, scientists select individual genes and transfer them from one organism to another, between related and nonrelated species.2

The only GMOs commercially available in the U.S. are the following eight crops: soybeans, corn (field and sweet), papaya, canola, cotton, alfalfa, sugar beets and summer squash.


What is Biotechnology?

The methodology used to create GMO plants, which results in GMO food crops, is referred to as genetic engineering or biotechnology.

Genetic engineering allows scientists to create new genetic traits, some of which may be new to certain crops. However, the same basic types of traits are often found naturally in plants and allow them to survive and evolve.1


Why Grow GM Crops?

Plant breeding creates crops that are better able to withstand environmental challenges such as drought, disease and insect infestations. This allows farmers to grow more food in more places, in the U.S. and in developing countries, while using less land and fewer chemicals.1

The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology reports that use of biotech in soy, corn and cotton has decreased soil erosion by 90 percent, preserving 37 million tons of topsoil. Biotech crops also provide a 70 percent reduction in herbicide runoff and an 85 percent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions.2,3

Finally, GMO crops may provide enhanced-quality traits, like increased levels of beta-carotene in rice to reduce vitamin A deficiencies; improved oil compositions in canola, soybeans and corn; and better-tasting fruits and vegetables.1

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