GMOs in Groceries

QAfter the Flavr-Savr debacle in the US, will there ever be a GMO tomato, even if it is CRISPR-based and non-regulated by USDA's BRS?

After the Flavr-Savr debacle in the US, will there ever be a GMO tomato, even if it is CRISPR-based and non-regulated by USDA's BRS?

QAfter the Flavr-Savr debacle in the US, will there ever be a GMO tomato, even if it is CRISPR-based and non-regulated by USDA's BRS?

After the Flavr-Savr debacle in the US, will there ever be a GMO tomato, even if it is CRISPR-based and non-regulated by USDA's BRS?

By • April 13, 2018

The following is an excerpt of an article at The Conversation that reports on the latest Food Literacy and Engagement Poll from Michigan State University’s [email protected] initiative, specifically looking at the difference between attitudes of wealthy Americans compared to lower income Americans. 

Socioeconomics play a significant role in attitudes about food – especially concerns about safety and purchasing behavior. And higher income doesn’t always correlate with informed choices. On the contrary, our research shows that affluent Americans tend to overestimate their knowledge about health and nutrition.

The latest Food Literacy and Engagement Poll from Michigan State University’s [email protected] initiative reveals that nearly half of Americans (49 percent) in households earning at least US$50,000 annually believe they know more than the average person about global food systems, while just 28 percent of those earning less are as confident. However, when we surveyed people on a variety of food topics, affluent respondents fared no better, and at times worse, than their lower-earning peers.

We sampled over 2,000 Americans age 18 and over online. Results were weighted to reflect U.S. census demographics for age, sex, race and ethnicity, education, region and household income to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

To read the conclusions of the poll, please visit The Conversation website

By • April 13, 2018

The following is an excerpt of a blog post by writer/reporter Joan Conrow at the Cornell Alliance for Science website about how she changed her mind about GMOs. 

As reasonable and thinking human beings, we can change our minds when confronted with compelling new evidence. It’s hard, but possible. And that’s a very good thing, especially for those of us who cherish Enlightenment values and critical thinking.

I’ve also come to learn that GMOs are a stand-in for many other gripes, like industrialization and corporatization. They’re viewed as the nemesis of a simpler, saner, slower way of life. For those who worship the god of organic, GMOs are nothing less than the devil himself. I understand all that, because I felt much the same way just four short years ago.

It’s OK to wax nostalgic for family farms and self-sufficiency. It’s great to want safe food, and a healthy, biodiverse ecosystem. It’s laudable to advocate for social justice and food security. But none of these concepts are antithetical to GMOs, which are simply a crop breeding technology.

To read the entire blog post, please visit the Cornell Alliance for Science website. 

By • April 13, 2018

The following is an excerpt of an article at the Genetic Literacy Project that explains how many of the foods we eat have been modified and changed. 

Opponents of GMOs have been unceasing in their campaign to vilify genetically modified foods by describing them as “Frankenfoods,” thus implying they are not natural and are potentially harmful.

“The practice of introducing new DNA and chemicals to seeds or animals (Aqua Advantage has developed a GMO fish) is similar to how Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein created his monster–—through piecing together lots of different organisms,” wrote the Organic Authority on its website—a common allusion in the anti-GMO world. “We all know what happened when the monster turned on Frankenstein, and many critics of genetic engineering have likened the inevitable backlash of GMO technology to the destruction and murderous rampage of Frankenstein’s monster.”

Many anti-GMO articles that warn of the dangers GM crops are often accompanied by an image of a [tomato]  fruit or vegetable with syringes sticking out of them. Very often it is a fruit or vegetable for which there is no current GM equivalent such as a tomato. This depiction is used to reinforce the notion that GM foods are created in laboratories and not by nature and therefore are dangerous to consume.

With the constant barrage of scare-based imagery, it is not surprising that there is widespread public suspicion that GMOs are dangerous to human health. But there is little controversy surrounding GMOs within the scientific community with 88 percent of the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science believing GMOs are “generally safe.” The safety of GMOs were once again reinforced by the May 2016 report by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which concluded, there was “reasonable evidence that animals were not harmed by eating food derived from genetically engineered crops”, and epidemiological data indicated there was no increase in cancer or other health related problems associated with these crops entering our food supply.

To read the rest of this article, please visit the Genetic Literacy Project website

By • April 13, 2018

The following is a video from the Cornell Alliance for Science featuring researcher Dr. Ochieng of the University of Nairobi (Kenya) explaining what a GMO is, and what it isn't. 

 

By • April 12, 2018

The following is an excerpt of a blog post on the website SciMoms discussing various aspects of food labels, focusing on the cost organic and non-GMO labelled food. 

If you’re like me, grocery shopping is both a pleasure and a struggle. I love to see which fresh produce and fancy cheeses are available! But meal planning is a challenge when your household contains one adventurous vegetarian (that’s me!) and two choosy eaters. Our grocery budget can get a bit out of control as I’m trying to meet each person’s needs and wants. Still, things could be a lot worse. I could be buying foods with organic or non-GMO labels.

What do organic and non-GMO labels even mean?

Farmers and manufacturers can gain organic certification if they follow certain processes related to how they grow crops and process foods. Organic is commonly touted as pesticide-free, but organic farmers have a list of pesticides they may choose from. Conventional agriculture may use any registered pesticide, and may use any approved genetically engineered crops (commonly called genetically modified organisms or GMOs). Whether you choose organic or conventional, there is no need for concern about pesticide residues, particularly for products grown in the United States.

While academics and government agencies debate the definition of GMO, for many people the meaning is simple. GMO signifies all they want to avoid about modern agriculture. That’s an unfortunate point of view, because biotechnology is simply a breeding process that can be used in any farming system. Decades of research have found the process of genetic engineering to be safe, and consumer concerns about GMOs are largely unfounded.

To read the entire blog post, please visit the SciMoms website

By • April 05, 2018

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

Don’t let food labels fool you. Knowing the facts can make you fool-proof.

By Mike Stebbins

With the amount of myths and misinformation about GMOs permeating the news, online and even grocery stores this year, it seems like every day is April Fool’s Day. But don’t let these fearmongering tactics fool you into believing today’s bogus food trends. Here are some of the biggest GMO jokes that you shouldn’t fall for:

1. You may have heard the myth that GMOs are made by injecting fish DNA into plants.

 

But here’s what really happens: When scientists create a genetically modified plant, the process begins by identifying a desired trait, like disease-resistance or drought-tolerance, in nature. Once they have identified a trait and isolated the specific gene or genes that control the trait, the next step in development is to transfer the desired gene into a crop plant. A common misconception is that this practice is dangerous, when in fact, the GM improved plant is then extensively tested, and researchers look for differences between the GM plant and its conventional counterpart. Nothing fishy about GM crops here!

2. Food containing ingredients derived from GMO crops is less nutritious.

But, don’t be fooled. There’s no nutritional difference between a GMO and its non-GMO counterpart, unless it has intentionally added nutrients! In fact, an analysis of more than 21 years of research on genetically modified crops found that GMO corn can provide more health benefits than traditional corn.

 

3. Someone tells you “GM Farmers soak, douse & drench their crops in pesticides."

Don’t fall for it! A common misconception is that the adoption of genetically modified crops has increased the use of pesticides, when just the opposite is true. Over the last 20 years, GMOs have reduced pesticide spraying by just over 8 percent!

 

4. And the biggest hoax of them all – absent labels.

Maybe you’ve come across “GMO-free” water or “GMO-free” pink Himalayan salt at your local grocery store? Neither of these products have genes that could be edited in the first place, yet the absurd claims of what’s “absent” in food continue, perpetuating fear and negatively shaping people’s perceptions of GMOs. Thankfully, consumers are no longer taking this joke seriously and are calling out companies for fearmongering.

 

 

A day of practical jokes can be fun, but when those jokes lead to misinformation about our food beyond April 1, it’s important to know the facts. Get informed so that next time you hear one of these four myths, you’ll have the last laugh.

 

 

By • April 05, 2018

The following is an excerpt of an opinion piece from CropLife Australia's Matthew Cossey in the Weekly Times about barriers to acceptance of GMOs. 

Humanity has been benefiting from plant science innovations since the Egyptians first bred edible corn more than 2000 years ago.

Genetically modified crops are simply the next natural step in plant breeding. Unfortunately, it is non-scientific regulations, in conjunction with some very successful and fear campaigns by activist groups, that have impeded the full benefits of these innovations being delivered to farmers and the community.

In the early 1990s, the impending introduction of GM crops prompted countries to create corresponding regulatory systems. Governments believed that strong independent and scientifically robust regulatory frameworks would ensure community confidence in the safety of GM products.

This would have been the case if the world was rational and evidence-based, and where misleading fearmongering didn’t prevail.

To read the entire piece, please visit the Weekly Times

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