The following is an excerpt of an article from the Richmond Times-Dispatch explaining some of the basics about GMOs and our food.
There you stand in your local grocery store, two ears of corn before you. One was grown from seeds on a farm using organic farming practices and is labeled organic; the other from a genetically modified seed on a conventional farm, a seed that made the ear of corn more resistant to weeds and pests.
Both ears look the same, though the organic corn costs more than the genetically modified corn — the only obvious difference between them.
Which one do you choose?
The simple act of choosing your food is anything but simple these days, as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have spawned battles from supermarket aisles and farmers markets to courtrooms and boardrooms and everywhere in between.
GMOs are foods that have been genetically engineered in order to include desired traits, such as resistance to bugs and weeds and diseases, as well as frost and drought. Others are grown to have more nutrients than are usually found in their organic and conventional counterparts. Essentially, researchers are looking to enhance the good traits and suppress the least desirable ones by inserting DNA from one organism into another, until they achieve what they’re looking for.
Corn, soybeans and cotton are the most common GMO foods, though others include alfalfa, canola, papayas, sugar beets, squash, potatoes and apples.
Proponents point to the value of GMOs, in that crops with inherent resistance to bugs and weeds require fewer applications of pesticides and herbicides, which is better for the environment. They say GMOs can produce higher yields on the same amount of land with less waste, because crops aren’t lost to pests and diseases, and that keeps food costs down. They argue that GMOs are as nutritious — and maybe more — than their non-GMO counterparts, and are just as safe because they go through upward of 10 years of vigorous testing and research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency before being approved for commercial consumption.
To read the entire article, please visit the Richmond Times-Dispatch website.