nikblocker's picture
When did your company, or any company or individual connected with Monsanto, begin the practice of genetic modification? What were some of the first things genetically modified and for what purpose?

A:Expert Answer

First, let me mention that details on the history of crop modification can be found in the Explore section of GMO Answers. And, as described in the History of Crop Modification reel, plants have been genetically modified through conventional breeding for centuries. 


The first use of biotechnology involving transformation and recombinant DNA technology, or what is commonly referred to as GM, at Monsanto was research work with E. coli for producing proteins in the laboratory in the 1970s.  This use of genetic modification for generating proteins is best known for medical uses, such as insulin for diabetics and growth hormone for growth insufficiency. In addition, other organisms, such as microbes, have been modified for common fermentation uses, such as cheese and beer production.  Monsanto does not commercialize any products related to these uses of biotechnology.


The first modification of plants through the use of genetic engineering at Monsanto was petunias in the 1980s.  These were not marketed but were used for research purposes, due to the fact that they could be transformed and the genetics were relatively well known.  The first major GM plant products commercialized in 1996 were Roundup Ready soybeans and Bollgard cotton. Roundup Ready soybeans were developed to provide growers with a tool to more effectively control weeds, while Bollgard cotton was developed to protect plants from bollworm and certain other insect pests.

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nikblocker's picture

Arkansas is beautiful but I don't miss the crazy weather! I spent time on my grandparent's farm in Pleasant Plains, Arkansas. There is nothing like the taste of fresh vegetables. My friend and I would pick soybeans from the neighboring fields and eat them. I can't imagine being that same child and cutting through a neighbor's farm where Roundup Ready soybeans are grown, especially picking them fresh and eating them right there in the field. If a child were to walk through a field of Roundup Ready soybeans and happened to pick and eat a few, would that child be at risk from ingesting or topically coming in contact with pesticide or herbicide?

KeithReding's picture

I know what you mean about walking trough the fields. I'm sure I walked 1000s of miles through cotton fields. I would not hesistate to eat something like sweet corn directly from the plant. Actually, Monsanto is serving our GM sweet corn in the cafeteria tomorrow. However, I don't recommend eating fresh soybeans off the plant. It has nothing to do with them being GMO or sprayed with Roundup. Soybeans should be cooked before eating them. They naturally contain proteinase inhibitors. This is true for all soybean varieties. Eaten raw, it can cause gastrointestinal problems. Cooking denatures these inhibitors making it perfectly safe to eat. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate hearing from someone back home. Regards, Keith

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