GMO Basics

By • January 16, 2015

Excerpt from publication originally posted at Sense About Science.

"Introduction: Why Make Sense of Uncertainty?

"Scientific uncertainty is prominent in research that has big implications for our society: could the Arctic be ice-free in summer by 2080? Will a new cancer drug be worth its side effects? Is this strain of ‘flu going to be a dangerous epidemic? 

"Uncertainty is normal currency in scientific research. Research goes on because we don’t know everything. Researchers then have to estimate how much of the picture is known and how confident we can all be that their findings tell us what’s happening or what’s going to happen. This is uncertainty. But in public discussion scientific uncertainty is presented as a deficiency of research. We want (even expect) certainty – safety, effective public policies, useful public expenditure. 

"Uncertainty is seen as worrying, and even a reason to be cynical about scientific research – particularly on subjects such as climate science, the threat of disease or the prediction of natural disasters. In some discussions, uncertainty is taken by commentators to mean that anything could be true, including things that are highly unlikely or discredited, or that nothing is known. This conflict frustrates us at Sense About Science, and we know that it frustrates researchers we work with and the public we hear from. Some clearer ideas about what researchers mean by scientific uncertainty – and where uncertainty can be measured and where it can’t – would help everyone with how to respond to the uncertainty in evidence. 

"This guide has brought together specialists in many areas – climate science, clinical research, natural hazard prediction, public health, biostatistics and epidemiology. We asked them for the reasons why they are not automatically so troubled by the presence of uncertainty in the most heated debates. We have looked at what uncertainty means and doesn’t mean in science, how it is measured, when it can’t be measured and how that might change through research into the big questions. Above all we asked how other people can grapple constructively with advances in knowledge and changes in thinking, instead of despairing at ‘those uncertain scientists’."

Read the full publication, "Making Sense of Uncertainty:Why uncertainty is part of science" here [PDF].

 

Posted on June 28, 2017
The short answer is no, neither MSG or animal extraction are from GMOs, nor is MSG, animal extraction, or animal products/animal DNA in GMOs.   When people refer to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), they are referring to precision plant breeding using genetic engineering (also called GE). It 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... Read More
Answer:
Posted on June 28, 2017
No. MSG, monosodium glutamate, is a chemical additive, certainly not a GMO.
Answer:
Posted on June 28, 2017
Monosodium glutamate is mainly produced by a fermentation process with sugar as a starting material. It is not GMO. Plants that have been genetically modified do not contain any animal residue or byproducts.
Answer:

By • September 22, 2017

The following is an excerpt of a guest column by GMO Answers Expert Janice Person that originally appeared at Forbes.com about some GMOs that people might not know about. 

What are some interesting examples of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Janice Person, worked with & eaten GMO crops since 1996, currently works at Monsanto, on Quora:

With the buzz around genetically modified organisms over the past few years, it seems that not everyone knows about the most interesting GMOs. I have quite a few that I enjoy talking about and I frequently hear people ask why they haven’t heard of them before. So, I’m going to walk through some of my favorites that are the type of genetically engineered products that most people mean when they say GMO.

INSULIN — Few folks think about GMOs in the full set that science does, but insulin is considered the first GMO, before that it was sourced from taking the pancreas from animals. Having had a diabetic or two in my extended family, the ability to produce insulin faster and easier is something really rewarding and I frequently wonder how awesome it would feel to have been on that breakthrough team to develop something that proves to be lifesaving for others.

IN A NUTSHELL — My favorite GMO is probably the American chestnut tree that the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry has been working on. I grew up in a part of the US where chestnut trees were the most abundant trees in America’s Appalachian Mountains. It was an important hardwood during my grandparents’ lives, but the tree was lost as the forests were devastated by a blight. That not only changed the combination of trees, but resulted in shifts of wildlife that fed on American chestnuts. A TEDx session from SUNY researcher Bill Powell does a great job explaining the project and is so compelling that individuals like me have contributed funding.

THE RAINBOW PAPAYA — The 1980s had a disease called the ringspot virus that was attacking papaya farms in Hawaii. There weren’t cultural practices nor fungicides that could control it. Farmers like Ken Kamiya were facing the total loss of their farms and way of life. Some farmers were burning down trees in hopes of controlling the spread. The University of Hawaii worked on in-plant protection through GMOs. Farmers and scientists on the islands have worked hard to get the public to understand, but it has not been easy, as the NY Times shared in this article: A Lonely Quest for Facts on Genetically Modified Crops. The university developers discuss their work and the public controversy in the recent documentary Food Evolution narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson (astronomer) (available via iTunes and Amazon), which is also where I learned more about the GMO banana in development in Uganda.

DROUGHT-TOLERANT CROPS — Growing food in some parts of the world is easier than others. In areas like sub-Saharan Africa, the lack of available water can make the difference between being able to feed your family and going hungry. In some other areas, having drought-tolerant crops can mean the ability to pay bills versus risk catastrophe if the season is one that doesn’t bring the necessary rain. This video produced by colleagues shows the result of drought-tolerant corn hybrids for a family in Kenya. It makes me incredibly proud to work for Monsanto.

THE GMO I KNOW BEST — For years, I worked in the cotton industry and I remember clearly when the GMO that we commonly call bt. cotton came out. If you have ever driven at night in a part of the world where cotton is grown, you have probably been grossed out by the high number of insects that hit your windshield. Lots of those moths are laying eggs that will become damaging worms if they get established. There are several GMO traits that protect the plants from those worms, resulting in significant drops in the use of insecticides and reducing on-farm risk which farmers have embraced.

BROADER DEFINITION OF GMO — A lot of scientists have trouble with the common understanding of GMOs because genetic modifications don’t always involve biotechnology. If you are willing to think of that, then one of the selection and breeding advances that leaves me wowed is the brassica family. Something that started as wild mustard is now available in many different forms in the produce section of the store, as some people really liked the state of the leaves, others like the blooms, still others liked the buds. From that we get cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, and kale, just to name a few.


Another one I love thinking about is how what started out as teosinte has over the course of time become the corn, sweet corn, popcorn, etc. that we love. This is the size teosinte’s cob started out as. That’s my index finger, and the kernels are the small green parts that cross over to the left. That was a cob!

 

 

 

To read this article in its original format, please visit Most People Don't Give These Interesting GMOs The Credit They Deserve at Forbes.com. 

Posted on April 12, 2017
There are no GM tomatoes on the market but there is quite a bit of misinformation about GM crops on the Internet – for example “spooky” Fish DNA in tomatoes - that is designed to mislead and scare consumers.                                             ... Read More
Posted on June 22, 2017
This site is dedicated to presenting the facts and research behind GMOs, agriculture and biotechnology. We work with appropriate experts, scientists and academia to get answers and information to any and all questions submitted to the website.   GMO Answers was created to do a better job answering your questions — no matter what they are — about GMOs. The biotech industry stands 100 percent behind the health and safety of the GM crops on the market today, but we... Read More
Posted on March 2, 2017
The term “GMO” typically refers to crops or animals that, through genetic engineering, have had a gene (or a few genes) from a different species inserted into their genome. So yes, by design, to improve a crop or animal with genetic engineering, the genome of the new, GE variety has been changed by the addition of new genes(s).     Your question also asks about whether inserting the new gene(s) will “…activate genes…” Some traits in... Read More

By • September 20, 2017

The following is a video from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) highlighting the need for agricultural innovation to help feed the planet in the future. 

Modern agriculture has made significant contributions to our lives- providing safe, accessible and nutritious foods and beverages. Agricultural innovations, including plant breeding, biotechnology and precision farming will allow the food supply to meet the needs of a growing population.


Please visit the IFIC website for more information. 

Posted on July 28, 2017
Hummingbird feeders often contain a sugar solution that is similar to plant nectar. Therefore, bees are attracted to these Hummingbird feeders, because similar to hummingbirds, the sugar/nectar attracts them. There are some hummingbird feeders on the market that are designed to prevent bees, ants, and other insects from getting in.   Bee decline is complex and often misunderstood by the public. Chris Sansone, Global Regulatory Affairs Manager of Insect Resistance Management (... Read More
Answer:
Posted on April 12, 2017
There are no GM tomatoes on the market but there is quite a bit of misinformation about GM crops on the Internet – for example “spooky” Fish DNA in tomatoes - that is designed to mislead and scare consumers.                                             ... Read More
Posted on June 22, 2017
This site is dedicated to presenting the facts and research behind GMOs, agriculture and biotechnology. We work with appropriate experts, scientists and academia to get answers and information to any and all questions submitted to the website.   GMO Answers was created to do a better job answering your questions — no matter what they are — about GMOs. The biotech industry stands 100 percent behind the health and safety of the GM crops on the market today, but we... Read More

By • September 18, 2017

The following is a video posted at the Super Deluxe YouTube page that asks the question, Are GMOs Safe? This 7 minute explains in great detail many of the misconceptions about GMOs and GMO foods. 

 

To view the video on the Super Deluxe YouTube page, please click here. 

Posted on June 28, 2017
The short answer is no, neither MSG or animal extraction are from GMOs, nor is MSG, animal extraction, or animal products/animal DNA in GMOs.   When people refer to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), they are referring to precision plant breeding using genetic engineering (also called GE). It 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... Read More
Answer:
Posted on June 28, 2017
No. MSG, monosodium glutamate, is a chemical additive, certainly not a GMO.
Answer:
Posted on June 28, 2017
Monosodium glutamate is mainly produced by a fermentation process with sugar as a starting material. It is not GMO. Plants that have been genetically modified do not contain any animal residue or byproducts.
Answer:

By • September 15, 2017

The following is a post by Michelle Miller, aka The Farm Babe, posted to the AG Daily website about GMOs and bee health

One of my favorite topics to write about, and one that constantly gets attention and is riddled with myths, is the topic of GMOs. There is also a lot of mythssurrounding the health of bees, while media sensationalism tends to overpower the facts.

The fact is that, according to the USDA, the honeybee population is actually at a 20-year high. Colony collapse disorder was an issue that had originally affected the bees in 2006, however much has been done to alleviate this problem. There were many factors that contributed to their decline, such as habitat loss, variation mites, bad management, chemicals, and predators.

The anti-GMO crowd likes to tout GMOs as a huge factor to bee death, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is that GMOs allow farmers to use substantially less chemicals, and it is thanks to modern crop genetics that farmers are using fewer and safer chemicals than ever before. Before GMOs, corn and soybean farmers had to spray insecticide, but thanks to the Bt genetics, insecticides are often no longer needed. GMOs usually possess traits of herbicide tolerance, but herbicides harm plants, not insects. Insecticides are used to control insects.

There are many laws and regulations in place to protect our pollinator friends. In Iowa, where I live, for example, we have what is called the Iowa Bee Law. If we are going to spray, we must notify local beekeepers, and beekeepers are required to be registered with the county. Communication is key, and sometimes certain agrichemicals must also be sprayed at night when the bees are not foraging, to protect them. The reality is that a majority of farmers cannot have good yields without the bees to pollinate them. It is in every farmer’s best interest to be as responsible as possible around them; we all care about beneficial insects.

It’s important to note that the scenarios just mentioned would not be specific to GMOs since GMO crops tend to use less chemicals. Regardless of plant breeding method, products used to improve modern farming that could potentially harm bees could be used in organic or non-GMO — it just isn’t that black and white. So it is irrelevant to blame GMOs when it really doesn’t matter. Farm chemicals have been used in agriculture for over 4,000 years, but technology has made them better and safer over time.

While certain agrochemicals could potentially harm bees, it’s important to note the risk is extremely small. In the grand scheme of things, their biggest threats are habitat loss, overpopulation of hives, insect infestation and natural predators, harsh winters, weather patterns, and varroa mites, to name a few. Humans in general can be guilty of killing bees for fear they may get stung, however honeybees are quite docile by comparison.

The varroa mite issue has been a big one and one that beekeepers are always on the lookout for. Medicine may be added to hives to prevent this awful bee disease, but science is taking it a step further: GMO bees.

Yes, you heard that right. Scientists are engineering bees through genetic modification, which could enable bees to be immune to the disease — think of it like vaccinations for them. This is a long and complicated process, but once completed, it could improve bee health by leaps and bounds, thus improving their survival. If you ever hear that bees are harmed by GMOs, don’t be “stung” by the myths. Now you know what the “buzz” is really about.

Michelle Miller, the Farm Babe, is an Iowa-based farmer, public speaker and writer, who lives and works with her boyfriend on their farm which consists of row crops, beef cattle, and sheep. She believes education is key in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers.

To read this article at its original source, please visit the AG Daily website

Posted on July 28, 2017
Hummingbird feeders often contain a sugar solution that is similar to plant nectar. Therefore, bees are attracted to these Hummingbird feeders, because similar to hummingbirds, the sugar/nectar attracts them. There are some hummingbird feeders on the market that are designed to prevent bees, ants, and other insects from getting in.   Bee decline is complex and often misunderstood by the public. Chris Sansone, Global Regulatory Affairs Manager of Insect Resistance Management (... Read More
Answer:
Posted on April 12, 2017
There are no GM tomatoes on the market but there is quite a bit of misinformation about GM crops on the Internet – for example “spooky” Fish DNA in tomatoes - that is designed to mislead and scare consumers.                                             ... Read More
Posted on June 22, 2017
This site is dedicated to presenting the facts and research behind GMOs, agriculture and biotechnology. We work with appropriate experts, scientists and academia to get answers and information to any and all questions submitted to the website.   GMO Answers was created to do a better job answering your questions — no matter what they are — about GMOs. The biotech industry stands 100 percent behind the health and safety of the GM crops on the market today, but we... Read More

By • September 15, 2017

The following is an except of an article in Reuters about a decision by a European court to allow an Italian farmer to grow genetically modified corn. 

Europe’s top court ruled on Wednesday that Italy had been wrong to ban cultivation of an EU-approved genetically modified (GMO) maize as it had failed to show there was a serious risk to public health or the environment.

The European Union approved use of the GMO maize, Monsanto’s MON 810 in 1998, but the Italian government asked the European Commission in 2013 to ban it after two Italian scientific studies questioned its safety.

The Commission concluded there was no reason to do so since the European Safety Authority had concluded it was safe.

Italy nevertheless decided to ban cultivation of MON 810 and in 2014 prosecuted a number of farmers who continued to grow it.

The European Court of Justice ruled that unless there is significant evidence that GMOs are a serious risk to human or animal health or the environment, then member states cannot adopt emergency measures to prohibit their use.

To read the rest of the article, please read the article on the Reuters website

Posted on April 12, 2017
There are no GM tomatoes on the market but there is quite a bit of misinformation about GM crops on the Internet – for example “spooky” Fish DNA in tomatoes - that is designed to mislead and scare consumers.                                             ... Read More
Posted on June 22, 2017
This site is dedicated to presenting the facts and research behind GMOs, agriculture and biotechnology. We work with appropriate experts, scientists and academia to get answers and information to any and all questions submitted to the website.   GMO Answers was created to do a better job answering your questions — no matter what they are — about GMOs. The biotech industry stands 100 percent behind the health and safety of the GM crops on the market today, but we... Read More
Posted on March 2, 2017
The term “GMO” typically refers to crops or animals that, through genetic engineering, have had a gene (or a few genes) from a different species inserted into their genome. So yes, by design, to improve a crop or animal with genetic engineering, the genome of the new, GE variety has been changed by the addition of new genes(s).     Your question also asks about whether inserting the new gene(s) will “…activate genes…” Some traits in... Read More

By • September 14, 2017

The following is an article by Andrew Porterfield posted to the Genetic Literacy Project website that debunks the common myth that GMOs are causing a spike in new allergies. 

Over the last 30 years, reported cases of food allergies — especially in young children — have gone up.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4 percent of children under 18 have some kind of food or digestive allergy. That number represents an increase of 18 percent for all food allergies among children between 1997 and 2007.

For some foods, the increase has been even greater. For example, peanut allergy prevalence has quadrupled from 0.4 percent in 1997 to more than 2 percent in 2010. In fact, peanut allergy is now the leading cause of anaphylactic shock — the most severe form of allergy — due to food in the United States. And the problem isn’t just confined to the US: hospital admissions for food-related anaphylaxis has seen a seven-fold rise in the United Kingdom since 1990.

So, what’s going on? Assuming these increases are bona fide, what’s causing them?

There is no short list of culprits. Microbiome, Western diet, and socioeconomic status to name a few. A number of groups have also blamed genetically modified food. According to the Organic Consumers Association, the main trade group for the organic food industry:

Genetic engineering, for instance, can increase existing allergens, or produce new, unknown allergens. Both appear to have happened in genetically modified (GM) soy, which is found in the majority of processed foods.

Jeffrey Smith, head of the Institute for Responsible Technology, author of the books Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette, weighed in withthis advice:

Beginning in 1996, genes from bacteria and viruses have been forced into the DNA of soy, corn, cotton, and canola plants, which are used for food. Ohio allergist John Boyles is one of a growing number of experts who believe that these genetically modified (GM) foods are contributing to the huge jump in food allergies in the US, especially among children.

However, of the foods that most frequently cause food allergy, GM versions simply don’t exist.

There is no GM peanut (although development of a hypoallergenic GM peanut is ongoing). There is no GM milk. Or consumable GM egg (although there is now that makes medicine). However, a few cases of allergenicity cropped up during early experiments involving genetically engineered foods, which piqued concerns.

  • The first, in 1996, involved the transfer of a Brazil nut protein into a soybean to enhance the soy’s nutrition. However, the allergenic properties of the Brazil nut protein 2S albumin, a common allergen, also were transferred over and triggered an allergic reaction in experimental human volunteers. The 2S albumin was transferred because of its methionine (an essential amino acid) content. The experiment was halted.
  • The second involved an Australian experiment in 2005 on mice in which a bean protein designed to resist the pea weevil (an insect pest) ended up triggering severe immune reactions in the mice. While the alpha-amylase inhibitor protein itself was expressed in mice, it had changed glycosylation (sugars that coat the protein). Glycosylation is a very specific, and changes in these sugar coatings can trigger an immune response against the “new” protein. Not only was this found out quickly through a thorough study, today’s immunological products have more ways to significantly reduce these changes in glycosylation.

Both of these incidents show one of three ways an allergy risk could possibly increase from GM foods. The incidents involve transferring a known allergen (either a Brazil nut protein, or glycosylation) into a food crop. A second way is to increase the inherent ability of a GM crop to cause allergies. However, no studies have found heightened intrinsic allergenicity when compared with non-biotech equivalents. The third way involves the creation of a brand new, novel protein that could trigger an allergy. Though this last possibility, of a “franken-protein,” has caught media attention and been used by anti-GMO groups, it has not yet happened.

European Union health agencies, and member nation health agencies, as well as the US FDA, EPA and USDA, are all involved in necessary rigorous assessments of GM foods (or any other foods) for allergic potential. The EPA, in fact, maintains an extensive list of foods that could trigger allergies. Another resource used to test for allergens is the University of Nebraska’s Allergen Online, which matches amino acid sequences of possible allergens with reference proteins known to cause allergies. And, so far, no single biotechnology-based protein in food has been found to cause an allergic reaction.

While any food could cause an allergic reaction in somebody, some patterns have arisen:

  • First, allergens are nearly all proteins. Thus, by studying the amino acid sequence of a potential genetically engineered protein and comparing to amino acid sequences of known allergens, it is relatively straightforward task to determine early on if a protein might cause problems.
  • Nearly all allergens trigger a complex immune system process that results in the creation of antibody called IgE (immunoglobulin type E). An allergy is triggered by the second exposure to the allergen, by triggering a reaction from IgE. However, the specific proteins that trigger this reaction vary a great deal.
  • While food allergies can come from any food, the overwhelming majority (90 percent) come from eight foods: Peanuts, wheat, soy, milk, shellfish, fish, eggs and tree nuts (Brazil nuts, walnuts, almonds). In children, most allergies are caused by eggs, milk, and peanuts.
  • Allergies are not the same as intolerances, such as lactose intolerance. Intolerances are caused by different molecular and biological mechanisms, such as the absence of an enzyme (like lactase), and don’t necessarily require the complete avoidance that allergies do. They are not the same as toxins, which create an immediate reaction on first exposure.

If not GMOs, then what?

The causes behind the increase in food allergies are not known. While anti-GMO groups have pointed to biotechnology, there are other proposed causes, each with a varying degree of data to support each:

  • The “hygiene hypothesis,” which proposes that a more germ-free existence during infancy and early childhood doesn’t trigger immune reactions to pathogens at an early age. This means, the hypothesis goes, that such immune systems don’t recognize true pathogens and reacts instead to what should be harmless stimuli (i.e., food).
  • Birth by caesarean section, because a baby born this way does not acquire its mother’s gastrointestinal bacteria that it would during a vaginal birth. This development of the infant’s microbiome could help boost immunity to pathogens, but without proper (or any) development, allergies may result. Babies born by caesarean section do appear to have a higher risk of developing food allergies.
  • Food additives, like sulfites and sodium benzoate, may trigger reactions in some people. Artificial sweeteners and food colorings may also cause allergies in sensitive people. These additives are common parts of nearly all foods, and while some are added during processing, others are natural.
  • Genetics and inheritability aren’t very clearly linked to food allergies, especially when viewing them in general. A Johns Hopkins study found a 20 percent penetrance (the degree to which a version of a gene causes the predicted phenotype) of genes around two significant immune genes, HLA-DR and HLA-DQ, associated with peanut allergy, but they also found that not everybody with these genes gets an allergic reaction.

The typical treatment for food allergy is avoidance. However, some studies have shown some there may be a better treatment, as well as insights into the etiology of allergies.

  • A British study on peanuts carefully measured allergic reaction in 500 infants when the children reached five years of age. All the infants were at high-risk of peanut allergy, and when they were five, given an oral challenge (basically, given a peanut and then measured for a reaction). 17.2 percent of children who had avoided peanuts since infancy had an allergic reaction, while just 3.2 percent of the children who had consumed peanuts since infancy had an allergic reaction. In addition, among children who had no apparent risk of allergy, 13.7 percent of children who avoided peanuts did have an allergy, while just 1.9 percent of children who ate peanuts had such an allergy.
  • A large Australian survey of more than 5,000 infants found that risks of allergy included parents born overseas (especially from Asia), delayed consumption of eggs, peanuts and sesame, and family history. Dogs, however, were apparently protective from allergic risks.
  • A University of Chicago team fed Clostridium bacteria (the same genus, but not the same species as C. difficile, the scourge of hospital-acquired infections worldwide) to mice that had been raised in sterile environments. With no microbiome developed in their intestinal systems, the mice developed severe allergic reactions to peanuts. Clostridium, however, fought off the allergic reaction.

Allergic reactions are complex. Even though eight foods cause most allergies, many more can cause specific reactions, because everybody’s intestinal, nervous and immune systems are different (not to mention their genetics). While certain genetically engineered experimental foods were found to have allergens, these allergens were known and caught by researchers in early stages, just as a test on organic peanuts would also show a potential allergic reaction in sensitive people. And further studies have shown that transgenics technology does not make a food any more allergenic — but neither does it automatically make it less (unless the target trait is allergenicity).

To read this entire article at the Genetic Literacy Project website, please click Are GMOs responsible for a spike in food allergies?

Posted on June 22, 2017
This site is dedicated to presenting the facts and research behind GMOs, agriculture and biotechnology. We work with appropriate experts, scientists and academia to get answers and information to any and all questions submitted to the website.   GMO Answers was created to do a better job answering your questions — no matter what they are — about GMOs. The biotech industry stands 100 percent behind the health and safety of the GM crops on the market today, but we... Read More
Posted on March 2, 2017
The term “GMO” typically refers to crops or animals that, through genetic engineering, have had a gene (or a few genes) from a different species inserted into their genome. So yes, by design, to improve a crop or animal with genetic engineering, the genome of the new, GE variety has been changed by the addition of new genes(s).     Your question also asks about whether inserting the new gene(s) will “…activate genes…” Some traits in... Read More
Posted on August 15, 2017
No! However, poor nutrition coupled with highly processed foods and a lack of education regarding healthy eating is bad for our kids. As a mother and farmer, I believe the best way to keep my family safe and healthy is to make sure they eat a balanced diet and make good food choices daily. Fresh, healthy ingredients and minimally processed foods that are low in sugar, salt, calories and cholesterol provide kids with the best opportunity for a healthy diet. Agricultural biotechnology... Read More
Answer:

By • September 12, 2017

The following is an excerpt of an article from the Capital Press about an upcoming event at the University of Idaho discussing GMOs

An upcoming speaker at the University of Idaho plans to share his experiences in compiling a study about the realities of GMOs.

Fred Gould, professor of agriculture at North Carolina State University, served as chairman of a National Academy of Sciences committee that issued a report in 2016 about genetically engineered crops over the past 20 years, and what’s coming in the future. The resulting 600-page report considered health and environmental safety and agricultural impacts.

Gould will summarize the report and explain why “it might be reasonable to trust what we found (and) how we went about collecting all this information,” he told the Capital Press.

Gould will speak alongside journalist and science communicator Cara Santa Maria 6 p.m., Sept. 18, at the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre in Moscow, Idaho, as part of UI’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Speaker Series. The title of the presentation is ‘“What’s For Dinner?: A Guide to Understanding GMOs.” The event is free and open to the public.

“There is a continuing need to communicate the science and what GMOs can offer growers and consumers, and what they can’t,” said Joseph Kuhl, associate professor of plant genetics at UI.

Gould said he hopes to convey to the public how a researcher goes about separating the wheat – useful information – from the chaff, which ranges from “Everything is going to kill you,” to “Without genetic engineering, we can’t feed the world.”

Please visit the Capital Press website to read the rest of the article. 

Posted on April 12, 2017
There are no GM tomatoes on the market but there is quite a bit of misinformation about GM crops on the Internet – for example “spooky” Fish DNA in tomatoes - that is designed to mislead and scare consumers.                                             ... Read More
Posted on June 22, 2017
This site is dedicated to presenting the facts and research behind GMOs, agriculture and biotechnology. We work with appropriate experts, scientists and academia to get answers and information to any and all questions submitted to the website.   GMO Answers was created to do a better job answering your questions — no matter what they are — about GMOs. The biotech industry stands 100 percent behind the health and safety of the GM crops on the market today, but we... Read More
Posted on March 2, 2017
The term “GMO” typically refers to crops or animals that, through genetic engineering, have had a gene (or a few genes) from a different species inserted into their genome. So yes, by design, to improve a crop or animal with genetic engineering, the genome of the new, GE variety has been changed by the addition of new genes(s).     Your question also asks about whether inserting the new gene(s) will “…activate genes…” Some traits in... Read More

By • September 08, 2017

This post was originally published on GMO Answers' Medium page.

 

 

Every year I get around 90 fresh faced, anxious high school freshmen in my agriculture foundations classroom. They creep by my upper classmen in the hallway with their maps and determinedly race against the tardy bell.

Ahhh... the sweetness of ambitious ninth graders! You see my upperclassmen have long lost the rush of a new school, new teachers and a new tardy bell schedule. They have adapted into the simple flow that is a rural county high school. They flow from class to class, listening to lectures, turning in assignments (if we're lucky) and talking about the latest social gossip while trying to hide their cellphones from administrators. It's an easy pace until they arrive in the agriculture room.

I start my year by talking about solving world hunger. I talk about the population boom and then ask them a simple question, “How do we solve world hunger?"

Most classes sit in silence while waiting for me to answer my own question...but after 20-30 seconds of staring at each other, they realize I'm serious. Then they get antsy...

“Well we need more farms!”

“We can send other countries our crops!”

“We can use GMOs!”

“We can...” and as they realize that we are using all the land we have available, we do ship crops, but poor infrastructure and government corruption prevent delivery. When they realize that GMOs are just a tool in a toolbox...they grow quiet again and wait for me to answer the question.

I never do.

It is my goal for students to have a broader view of the world when they leave my classroom. It is also a goal that they leave the classroom understanding basic scientific principles that govern our world and affect our food system. Practically though, I want them to be educated citizens and consumers. We spend a lot of time in my class talking about labels and advertising. Students look for what I call “crazy labels.” Here are a few we have found—

“Gluten Free!” on a half-gallon of ice cream. (Gluten comes from wheat.)

“Made with non-GMO Ingredients!” on a bottle of ketchup. (There are no genetically modified tomatoes on the market.)

“This milk is from cows not treated with bST!” (on a jug of milk with another label saying that according to the FDA there is no significant difference in milk from cows treated with bST and those not treated.)

Each time a student finds something that concerns them we talk about the science behind it. We look at peer reviewed research and read news articles from both sides about controversial food products like AquAdvantage Salmon. The students look for framing and bias in news articles and ask questions about research. We don’t always agree in our classroom, but we always show each other respect and provide evidence during our discussions.

As we go into this new school year, I look forward to having these discussions with my freshmen. I look forward to the questions they ask and the answers they find because if they don’t ultimately learn how to ask the hard questions and persevere through the mountain of research, they won’t be able to face the hard questions their generation will have to answer.

Like how to feed a growing and very hungry world.

There are a few things that I try to focus on with my students so that their understanding grows from year to year.

1. We focus on vocabulary.

According to the Literacy Project Foundation, 50% of American’s cannot read a book written at an 8th grade reading level. We fight the literacy battle every day in school but we also fight the scientific literacy battle. Many consumers do not possess an understanding of basic scientific principals required to make simple personal decisions. As a result, consumers pay more for things labeled with misleading wording when they could buy a nutritionally equivalent alternate for cheaper.

In my class, we focus on foundational concepts—like the difference between a hybrid and genetically modified seed as well as the science behind things like heredity, cross breeding, line breeding, bST, pST and many more. I want students to understand not only the science behind farmer and producer decisions but also the financial decisions that farmers make each time they choose a product for their farm.

2. We focus on ethics.

After we have established a firm understanding of a concept, we talk about the reasons farmers and producers choose a particular product or practice for their farm and the possible ethical concerns they see for that practice. We talk about the YEARS of research that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do before bringing a product to the market. We also talk about regulation—and the USDA’s official definitions for terms like organic, natural and transgenic, and how those words affect the consumer when they make a split decision to purchase a product.

3. We talk about the media.

One question I encourage students to ask is what is this advertisement, label or sticker trying to get the consumer to do and why? I encourage students to become media literate in looking for framing, bias and emotional pleas in advertising and compare that to the science they can see actual data from.

In the end, I hope my students leave asking the hard questions and digging for the tough answers and that this prepares them for a future of conquering challenges and making this world a better place for all of us.

Posted on June 22, 2017
This site is dedicated to presenting the facts and research behind GMOs, agriculture and biotechnology. We work with appropriate experts, scientists and academia to get answers and information to any and all questions submitted to the website.   GMO Answers was created to do a better job answering your questions — no matter what they are — about GMOs. The biotech industry stands 100 percent behind the health and safety of the GM crops on the market today, but we... Read More
Posted on March 2, 2017
The term “GMO” typically refers to crops or animals that, through genetic engineering, have had a gene (or a few genes) from a different species inserted into their genome. So yes, by design, to improve a crop or animal with genetic engineering, the genome of the new, GE variety has been changed by the addition of new genes(s).     Your question also asks about whether inserting the new gene(s) will “…activate genes…” Some traits in... Read More
Posted on May 6, 2017
A gene with a desirable trait can be moved from one organism to another organism as a means to change it. The traditional way is through selective breeding, which is slow, time consuming, inefficient, and transfers more than one gene, so other unexpected and unwanted traits can cause problems. But genes also can be moved in a laboratory, resulting in what has been called a genetically modified (“transgenic”) organism (GMO). GM technology moves only one gene, eliminating other,... Read More
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