QWhy are people so against GMOs? Are they healthy? What threats do they pose against the environment?

Why are people so against GMOs? Are they healthy? What threats do they pose against the environment?

AExpert Answer

Thank you for each of these questions. This response from Mary Mertz, who farms GM crops, discusses your first question:

 

“In my opinion, the biggest problem with the seeds is the amount of misinformation that is being circulated out there. GMOs have a public-image problem. The science-based reality proving GMOs to be safe and nutritious takes a backseat to the emotional propaganda meant to create skepticism in the mind of the consumer.

 

“The National Academy of Sciences, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the American Dietetic Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, among many other reputable institutes and organizations, find GMOs to be as safe and nutritious as foods produced in any other way. 

 

“People unassociated with farming may have the impression that farmers no longer have a choice in terms of the seeds that they buy for crop planting. This is not the case. There are options; there are many seed companies from which to purchase the supply. We choose the seeds we use based upon many factors, top of which would be performance (higher yields with lesser use of other inputs, like pesticides).”

 

To answer your second question, GM crops are as healthy as their non-GM counterparts. As Mary points out in her response above, every reputable leading health organization recognizes GM crops “to be as safe and nutritious as foods produced in any other way.”

 

You can find more information about GM foods and health herehere and here. You can find information about the FDA’s biotechnology policyhere.

 

In regard to your last question, you might find this response from Dave Sousa, public affairs manager for Dow AgroSciences, helpful.

 

“GM crops and crop protection chemicals are among the most highly regulated agricultural tools. The U.S. EPA evaluates the use of herbicides on both GM and non-GM crops and any potential effects on the environment, farm-workers, livestock, and consumers. In addition to U.S. EPA evaluation, the FDA reviews GM crops for their equivalence to non-GM versions and their safety for use in food and feed, and the USDA reviews these crops for their effects on the environment and on U.S. farm practices. For GM crops that provide protection from pests, the U.S. EPA registers the products after thoroughly reviewing their environmental and human health effects. The U.S. EPA also registers crop protection chemicals that are used on GM and conventional crops and, where necessary, requires safeguards for how they are used, so as to minimize environmental impacts, such as on bees, other beneficial organisms, aquatic habitats and endangered species. The U.S. EPA conducts robust risk assessments and sets thresholds for maximum residues of these chemicals and their breakdown products on harvested produce so that they do not affect consumer health.

 

“The industry is very careful about the choice of GM crops that are developed, as well as the crop protection chemicals that are used, to enhance U.S. agricultural productivity without harming the environment.”

 

We welcome your thoughts in the comment section below.

Posted on February 2, 2018
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In terms of the science behind the technology to create GMOs, scientists have a much better understanding how a transgene is delivered and stably integrated into a chromosome (or genome). Many GMO products, such as Bt corn, were made using Agrobacterium cells to deliver useful trait genes into the plant cells. Scientists were able to dissect the different steps of this natural gene delivery system encoded by Agrobacterium. We now have a good understanding of the interactions between... Read More