Currently there are nine GMO crops commercially available today: sweet and field corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, papaya, potato and squash. GM apples are approved and coming to market soon.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) allows plant breeders to take a desirable trait (like resistance to drought, insects, weeds, and disease) from one plant or organism and transfer it to the plant they want to improve, as well as make a change to an existing trait in a plant they are developing.
Crops are genetically modified to achieve a desired trait, such as resistance to an insect or disease. More detail on some of the traits crops are genetically modified to achieve and how they are beneficial to farming is included below:
- Insect resistance. This trait provides farmers with season-long protection against target pests, reduces the need for pesticide applications, and lowers input costs.
- Drought resistance. GM crops that express drought resistance can grow in much drier areas, conserving water and other environmental resources.
- Herbicide tolerance. Crops that can tolerate specific herbicides allow farmers to fight weeds by applying herbicides only when needed and enable them to use no-till production methods that preserve topsoil, prevent erosion, and reduce carbon emissions.
- Disease resistance. Through genetic modification, the Hawaiian papaya industry was able to recover from the devastating papaya ringspot virus that had crippled the industry.
For a more in-depth explanation of what GMOs are and why they are created, we encourage you to read more about them here. This post answers more tough questions surrounding GMOs and better explains the reason biotechnology is incorporated into agriculture.
- Learn the ABC’s of GMOs from the Seattle Times here.
- Follow our GMO Basic Pinterest board.
- Understand more about what foods are GMOs here.
- Check out these side-by-side images of GMO crops and their non-GMO counterparts.
- Discover six surprising facts about GMOs here.
If you have any other questions about GMOs or biotechnology, please ask!