QIt is my understanding as a graduate student in molecular anthropology that we consider anything that has been domesticated as a GMO, because domestication is one of the earliest forms of genetic engineering. I was wondering whenever I hear GMOs rightfull

It is my understanding as a graduate student in molecular anthropology that we consider anything that has been domesticated as a GMO, because domestication is one of the earliest forms of genetic engineering. I was wondering whenever I hear GMOs rightfully being defended, none of the experts ever point this out. Why is it?

AExpert Answer

I agree that it has essentially has been a lapse on scientists’ part not to express this “truth” whenever appropriate. I believe that allowing the definition of “GMO” to be limited to the use of modern scientific technologies has, over time, caused its placement within the context of genetic improvement to be lost. Especially for non-specialists, there seems to be a tendency to not understand that all foodstuff contain DNA and with no to few exceptions, were and are deliberately modified by humankind.
 
At first, the modifications were accomplished without understanding the underlying genetic mechanisms, but without doubt, they were deliberate. Later, we learned more and improvement became accelerated. Keep in mind that still, we do not understand everything about genetic function and gene expression and may never do so. It has dumbfounded some to hear that all organic crops are produced from bred (i.e., heavily modified) cultivars, often to the point of disbelief.
 
I present the following text on a slide in all of my presentations, and in fact, did so just this week at the annual meeting for the American Society of Horticultural Science.
 
Basic Tenets of Crop Improvement
 
1.    Without exception, all crops utilized for food and fiber were genetically improved by man.
2.    Crops like corn didn’t even exist in nature and only evolved through our deliberate actions.
3.    Improved crop plants have fed the world.
4.    Further improvement is urgently required to meet current and future demands.
 

Posted on March 9, 2018
Sun Pacific oranges are not a GM food, in fact all oranges are not a GM crop. Nearly all foods today have been genetically modified or altered in some way over thousands of years through selective breeding. But there are only 10 commercially available GM crops in the U.S: soybeans, corn (field and sweet), canola, cotton, alfalfa, sugar beets, summer squash, papaya, potatoes and apples. Below is a table outlining what year the 10 crops became commercially available:  ... Read More
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Posted on March 8, 2018
GMOs will not “save the world,” however they are an important tool in the toolbox for food security and agriculture. Dr. Stuart Smyth, Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioresource Policy, Business and Economics at the University of Saskatchewan, explores this topic in depth in a similar question and response here. “No single crop or food production method is capable of feeding the world on its own, so no, GMOs by themselves will not feed the world. However, as part... Read More
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Posted on March 1, 2018
GMOs are crops - and like any other version of the same crop, where you grow them and how you grow them is far more important than whether they are GMOs. No known system of agriculture can promise that it is sustainable forever; much agricultural research is being devoted to improving the sustainability of agriculture. In this regard, it appears likely that using GM technologies may improve sustainability of a particular crop cultured in a specific manner and place. Other... Read More
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