Health & Safety

By • June 30, 2017

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

Bill Nye, GMO, science, millennial
As a farmer’s daughter, a marketer and millennial, Joanna knows all about her generation’s attitude toward GMOs and agriculture. (Image Credit: Joanna Wavrunek)

 

Science was not my favorite subject in high school. Luckily, Bill Nye the Science Guy was there for me growing up. The 1990s TV celebrity, with his spunky personality and real-life applications, made learning about science enjoyable.

Today, we can continue to learn from Mr. Nye through his Netflix show, “Bill Nye Saves the World.” He brings in experts who are knowledgeable about science that touches our lives. I was particularly intrigued by his episode featuring GMOs, or genetically modified organisms. This YouTube video for the episode made my jaw drop. My favorite line from Nye was, “I actually don’t know a whole lot about it, so I can’t tell you exactly why it scares me, it just does!”

I found this alarming and thought I better chime in. I figured I would put Nye’s main ideas in the episode into terms that a millennial might better understand.

Bill Nye: Get the facts.

Millennial: Talk to the person who deals with it daily.

As millennials, we are inclined to rush to the internet for answers when we have questions about something. The internet is full of “experts,” and, unfortunately, many times the first one we find is the one we believe. I have learned that it’s better to seek out information from a variety of perspectives on a topic. From there, I find a person who is immersed in that topic daily. It only makes sense. For example, I don’t go to my hairstylist for advice about my 401k even though the hairstylist might have opinions about investing. My financial advisor is best suited for that. In similar fashion, Nye went straight to qualified experts when examining GMOs by inviting the CEO of Monsanto, a crop farmer and a professor onto his show.

Bill Nye: Tool in the toolbox.

Millennial: It is an option for farmers to use.

As I get older, I have more and more options in my daily life. I choose that options that work best for me. Take something as simple as shampoo. I get to choose from a variety of brands, scents and benefits. In the end, I pick the shampoo that works best for my hair and fits my financial budget. It’s like the decision-making farmers use when determining which seed to plant in their fields. They want a seed that is going to best fit their soil, budget and production goals.

 

gmo myth, gmo environment, gmo fact, gmo science, gmo farmer, gmo agriculture

 

Bill Nye: OMG, it’s a GMO.

Millennial: There are a lot of opinions about GMOs, don’t believe just one.

Everyone has an opinion. All those viewpoints, which bombard us online, can make it confusing.

The most effective diet, how to raise children, what education is best. In just a couple minutes you can find all sorts of opinions.

During my 24 years, I have learned it is important to listen to everyone’s viewpoints before forming your own opinion. There is no shortage of viewpoints. People tell us things like how to diet most effectively, how to raise children and what education is best. And you can find those opinions in just a couple minutes online.

Nye devoted an entire show to GMOs. Amid today’s short attention spans, 30 minutes is a long time. Even still, for GMOs, which have been the subject of years of research and millions of dollars of investment, there is more for people to learn.

I continue to learn from Nye’s approach — finding credible sources and then discussing their various viewpoints. His willingness to do so speaks to his own credibility and character.

My favorite quote from him is, “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” We are not experts in everything. There are lessons we can continue to learn from Bill Nye the Science Guy. 

Posted on March 28, 2017
Thanks for the question, which I will address in two ways here.   1. What are three ways that organisms are modified by scientists? Here I will focus only on plants.   a. Agrobacterium: Agrobacterium tumefaciens (Agro) is a naturally occurring soil organism that causes a disease in plants called crown gall disease. In the late 1970s, Mary-Dell Chilton discovered that Agro actually transfers genes (DNA) from the Agro to the plant cell, where it becomes integrated into the plant... Read More
Posted on March 2, 2017
First of all, to clarify – hybridization is part of conventional breeding and conventional breeding uses hybridization to create new combinations of genes from parent varieties. For example, a disease-resistant wheat variety may be hybridized to a variety that makes flour better suited for making whole wheat bread. This is a common goal of most conventional breeding programs. It typically involves taking pollen from one parent and using it to fertilize another parent. The... Read More
Posted on December 1, 2016
Viroids are very small pieces of circular RNA that have the potential of causing plant diseases. These entities are infectious agents that are different from viruses because they have no protein coat encircling their genetic material. Thus far, viroids are only known to be effective infectious agents in plants. Viroids have not been associated with any animal disease, and they have not been found in animal cells and tissues.    Biotechnological tools are being used in... Read More

By • June 27, 2017

The following is an article from The New York Times about “Food Evolution,” a documentary that debunks some of the most common myths surrounding GMOs with facts about their health, safety and contribution to sustainability.

The scientific method is under siege, and not just from naysayers who dismiss climate change or fear vaccines. G.M.O.s — genetically modified organisms — and the crops they enable have become another field of battle. Directed by Scott Hamilton Kennedy, “Food Evolution” hopes to demystify G.M.O.s and points to successes like Hawaiian papayas and Ugandan bananas, which were saved from devastating viruses. And while it gives opponents their say, the film rebuts their arguments, including reports that suggest G.M.O.s lead to a rise in farmers’ suicide rates and an increase in pesticide use. (The response to the first: correlation is not causation; to the second, yes, but those pesticides are far less toxic.)

The film also speaks with food journalists (including Michael Pollan, a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine) as well as farmers who have benefited from the technology. And if trust is an issue, Neil deGrasse Tyson, perhaps the most credible public scientist on the planet, is its narrator.

The documentary acknowledges the gorilla in the garden: Monsanto, a leading exponent of modification, is “one of the most-hated companies in the world.” There are many reasons Monsanto raises hackles, Dr. Tyson acknowledges, but “to be concerned about the safety of their G.M.O.s is to be misinformed.”

The food industry recruits scientists to speak on its behalf, but in press notes and email correspondence, the film’s producers say no funding came from any Big Ag company or lobbying group. “Food Evolution” was commissioned by the nonprofit Institute of Food Technologists, and the filmmakers retained creative control.

With a soft tone, respectful to opponents but insistent on the data, “Food Evolution” posits an inconvenient truth for organic boosters to swallow: In a world desperate for safe, sustainable food, G.M.O.s may well be a force for good.

To view the original article, please visit nytimes.com.

Posted on March 28, 2017
Thanks for the question, which I will address in two ways here.   1. What are three ways that organisms are modified by scientists? Here I will focus only on plants.   a. Agrobacterium: Agrobacterium tumefaciens (Agro) is a naturally occurring soil organism that causes a disease in plants called crown gall disease. In the late 1970s, Mary-Dell Chilton discovered that Agro actually transfers genes (DNA) from the Agro to the plant cell, where it becomes integrated into the plant... Read More
Posted on March 2, 2017
First of all, to clarify – hybridization is part of conventional breeding and conventional breeding uses hybridization to create new combinations of genes from parent varieties. For example, a disease-resistant wheat variety may be hybridized to a variety that makes flour better suited for making whole wheat bread. This is a common goal of most conventional breeding programs. It typically involves taking pollen from one parent and using it to fertilize another parent. The... Read More
Posted on December 1, 2016
Viroids are very small pieces of circular RNA that have the potential of causing plant diseases. These entities are infectious agents that are different from viruses because they have no protein coat encircling their genetic material. Thus far, viroids are only known to be effective infectious agents in plants. Viroids have not been associated with any animal disease, and they have not been found in animal cells and tissues.    Biotechnological tools are being used in... Read More
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Video: Are GMOs Safe To Eat?

In the spring of 2016, The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) researched GMO safety and concluded that GMOs are safe for humans and animals to consume. We asked GMO Answers volunteer expert and Registered Dietician Connie Diekman for her thoughts on the safety of GMOs.
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Video: How Many GMOs Are In The Food Supply?

While nearly all foods today have been genetically modified in some way over thousands of years through selective breeding, GMO Answers volunteer expert and Registered Dietician Connie Diekman explains that there are only nine genetically modified crops commercially available today: sweet and field corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, papaya, potatoes, and squash. GM apples have been approved and will be commercially available soon.

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Video: What Are The Common Misconceptions Surrounding GMOs And Nutrition?

Wondering if foods made from GM crops are as healthy as their non-GM counterparts? GMO Answers volunteer expert and Registered Dietician Connie Diekman explains that there is no nutritional difference between GMOs and their non-GMO counterpart.

Community Manager's picture

Video: Are GMOs Safe To Eat?

We asked GMO Answers volunteer expert and Registered Dietitian Connie Diekman about the safety of GMOs. Her answer: Yes, GMOs are safe.

There is a lot of misinformation surrounding GMOs.  From GMOs producing extra-large fruits to GMOs causing allergies, we dispel some of the common GMO myths with science-based facts. 

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INFOGRAPHIC: The History of Genetic Modification in Crops

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More Information for GMO Myths vs. Facts

If Himalayan pink salt doesn't have genes, how can it be a GMO? It can't.

GMO Myths vs. Facts

There are many myths and misconceptions about GMOs. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common myths and learn about the facts: MYTH:There are dozens of GMO crops, including strawberries, bananas and wheat.There is even GMO water and GMO salt. FACT:There are nine genetically modified crops commercially available today: sweet and field corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, papaya, potatoes, and squash. GM apples have been approved and will be commercially available soon. This chartexplains why each of the nine GMO crops are genetically modified. The majority of these crops, like alfalfa, field corn and soy are actually used...
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GMOs and Livestock

In the United States, livestock have been consuming feed made from genetically modified crops for almost twenty years.More than two-thirds of GM corn and half of GM soybeans are used for livestock feed. In that time,GMOs have never been detected in the milk, meat or eggs derived from animals fed genetically modified feed. Meaning livestock process GMO feed in the same way as any other feed. Many studies have been conducted on the potential for GMO DNA or proteins to be transferred into animal tissues.No intact or immunologically reactive protein or DNA has been detected in animal tissue. Alison Van Eenennaam, Animal Genomics and Biotechnology Cooperative...
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GMOs in the Grocery Store

GMO Crops Contrary to misconceptions, only a few GMO crops in the grocery store are available as whole produce – sweet corn, summer squash, papayas and potatoes. But large sections of the produce aisle are not comprised of GMOs. Seedless watermelons, for instance, are not GMOs. Other food products, however, may contain ingredients derived from GMO crops. Ingredients derived from genetically modified corn, soy, sugar beets and canola are used in a wide variety of foods including cereal, corn chips, veggie burgers and more. However, it is important to remember that genetically modified crops are nutritionally equivalent to non-genetically modified foods,...
Read More

Where GMOs Are Grown

Think only U.S. farmers grow GMO crops? You might be surprised to know that while each country has its own regulatory process for both the cultivation and sale of GM products, as of 2016, GMOs are grown, imported and/or used in more than 75 countries across the globe. As of 2015, 2.0 billion cumulative hectares of biotech crops have been planted since 1996. This includes a wide [no-lexicon]variety[/no-lexicon] of crops and countries, including maize in Spain, Bt cotton in Sudan, eggplant in Bangladesh, soybeans in Bolivia and more. The top five countries planting biotech crops by hectarage are the U.S., Brazil, Argentina, India and Canada. A single GM...
Read More

Current GMO Crops

The nine genetically modified crops available today: sweet and field corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, papaya, potatoes, and squash. GM apples have been approved and will be commercially available in Fall 2017. Below is a list outlining the year in which the nine crops that are currently commercially available were launched: Squash, 1995 Cotton, 1996 Soybean, 1995 Corn, 1996 Papaya, 1997 Alfalfa, 2006 Sugar beets, 2006 Canola, 1999 Potato, 2016 Apples, to be released in Fall 2017 The list below identifies the genetic traits expressed and uses of the 10 GMO crops approved in the U.S. These 10 crops are the only GMOs that are approved in the U...
Read More

How GMOs Are Made

Farmers have selectively cultivated plants for thousands of years, choosing a plant, for example, based on its ability to survive certain conditions or on how many seeds it produces.Farmers also sought to improve plants by crossing them with related species that had other desirable characteristics. This type of selective, or traditional, breeding involves crossing thousands of genes. Genetically modified organisms are the product of a targeted process where a few select genes are transferred into a plant to produce a desired trait. When scientists create a genetically modified plant, the process begins by identifying a desired trait.That trait may be...
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GMO Basics

What are GMOs? Are GMOs safe? Why do farmers grow GMO crops? We know there are a lot of questions regarding GMOs, Genetically Modified Organisms. Let’s start with the basics. What Are GMOs? When people refer to genetically modified organisms - GMOs - they are referring to crops developed through genetic engineering, a more precise method of plant breeding. Genetic engineering, also referred to as biotechnology, allows plant breeders to take a desirable trait found in nature and transfer it from one plant or organism to the plant they want to improve, as well as make a change to an existing trait in a plant they are developing. Some examples of...
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connie diekman, nutritionist, gmo nutrition, gmo food, GMO, nutrition, science, education, biotechnology
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By • June 06, 2017

The following is an article from Paste.com about an upcoming documentary that profiles five mothers who advocate for science-based decision making when it comes to children’s nutrition and health. 

In 2015, a group of bloggers wrote an open letter to celebrity moms Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ginnifer Goodwin—criticizing their stance on the anti-GMO Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. The letter explained what GMOs actually are, how they are safe to eat, and how they require fewer pesticides. “When GMOs are stigmatized,” they wrote, “farmers and consumers aren’t able to benefit from much-needed advancements like plants with increased nutrients, or plants that can adapt to changing environmental stresses.”

The letter caught the attention of several people, including Natalie Newell, who discovered it while feeding her then-infant son Zeke late at night. “I was so impressed to see this group of intelligent, relatable and reasonable moms standing up for science and against the fear-based culture that seems to have infected the world of parenting,” she said. Shortly after that, she contacted one of the letter’s writers, Jenny Splitter, about possibly making a short documentary about science-based parenting. Splitter then contacted a few other science-based mothers she knew, and thus Science Moms was born.

Science Moms is an upcoming documentary that profiles five mothers—Splitter, Kavin Senapathy, Alison Bernstein, Anastasia Bodnar and Layla Katiraee—who advocate for science-based decision making when it comes to children’s nutrition and health. “Through interviews with ‘science moms’ who are on the front lines of this struggle,” the film’s website states, “we’ll dissect the bogus claims of these celebrities one by one and explain in simple language what the science really shows about GMOs, vaccines, homeopathy and any of these topics that are often in the headlines, yet even more often are misunderstood.”

Shockingly, the reason why anti-GMO and anti-vaccine propaganda is so effective among parents is because it preys upon every parent’s fear: screwing things up for their children. “We want to do anything we can to keep our babies safe,” said Bodnar, “so it’s easy for marketers to twist that protective instinct and get us to buy into the latest fad.”

To read the entire article, please visit Paste.com.

Posted on March 28, 2017
Thanks for the question, which I will address in two ways here.   1. What are three ways that organisms are modified by scientists? Here I will focus only on plants.   a. Agrobacterium: Agrobacterium tumefaciens (Agro) is a naturally occurring soil organism that causes a disease in plants called crown gall disease. In the late 1970s, Mary-Dell Chilton discovered that Agro actually transfers genes (DNA) from the Agro to the plant cell, where it becomes integrated into the plant... Read More
Posted on March 2, 2017
First of all, to clarify – hybridization is part of conventional breeding and conventional breeding uses hybridization to create new combinations of genes from parent varieties. For example, a disease-resistant wheat variety may be hybridized to a variety that makes flour better suited for making whole wheat bread. This is a common goal of most conventional breeding programs. It typically involves taking pollen from one parent and using it to fertilize another parent. The... Read More
Posted on December 1, 2016
Viroids are very small pieces of circular RNA that have the potential of causing plant diseases. These entities are infectious agents that are different from viruses because they have no protein coat encircling their genetic material. Thus far, viroids are only known to be effective infectious agents in plants. Viroids have not been associated with any animal disease, and they have not been found in animal cells and tissues.    Biotechnological tools are being used in... Read More

By • June 01, 2017

The following is an excerpt from an investigative news report by David Schechter with WFAA-TV (Dallas) addressing some of the common concerns about GMOs and our food.

I'm at the Institute for Plant Genomics & Biotechnology at Texas A&M University, where scientists actually make new varieties of GMOs.

I'm tweezing embryonic plant seeds, trying to get a single gene that's living in the petri dish gel to transfer from the gel and into the seed. This is part of a much larger process that is highly complex, hands on, and takes years.

I'm talking to Dr. Betsy Pierson with A&M's Horticultural Sciences program. She loves her some GMO.

"This is a technology that's solving problems," she says.

The technology is solving problems like hunger. At Texas A&M, for example, Dr. Keerti Rathore is modifying cotton seed. It’s toxic and he wants to make it edible. He’s been working on the problem for 20 years. If he succeeds, he believes they can feed 600 million people around the world.

"That's exciting," I say to Betsy about the cotton research. "There's nothing that's not exciting about that. But people might still reject that. In this country, they might say, 'I'm not eating that.'"

To read the entire article, please visit the WFAA-TV website

Posted on March 28, 2017
Thanks for the question, which I will address in two ways here.   1. What are three ways that organisms are modified by scientists? Here I will focus only on plants.   a. Agrobacterium: Agrobacterium tumefaciens (Agro) is a naturally occurring soil organism that causes a disease in plants called crown gall disease. In the late 1970s, Mary-Dell Chilton discovered that Agro actually transfers genes (DNA) from the Agro to the plant cell, where it becomes integrated into the plant... Read More
Posted on March 2, 2017
First of all, to clarify – hybridization is part of conventional breeding and conventional breeding uses hybridization to create new combinations of genes from parent varieties. For example, a disease-resistant wheat variety may be hybridized to a variety that makes flour better suited for making whole wheat bread. This is a common goal of most conventional breeding programs. It typically involves taking pollen from one parent and using it to fertilize another parent. The... Read More
Posted on December 1, 2016
Viroids are very small pieces of circular RNA that have the potential of causing plant diseases. These entities are infectious agents that are different from viruses because they have no protein coat encircling their genetic material. Thus far, viroids are only known to be effective infectious agents in plants. Viroids have not been associated with any animal disease, and they have not been found in animal cells and tissues.    Biotechnological tools are being used in... Read More

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