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What is a GMO?
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. When creating a GMO or genetically modified organism, researchers copy specific genetic information from one plant or organism and introduce it into another to improve or enhance a specific characteristic or trait, such as resistance to insects. Developing special traits in plants allows for more food to be grown in more places using fewer chemicals and fewer natural resources.
Manipulating genes in plants is an approach that has been used for centuries to make bread, cheese, wine and beer. Today, nearly every food on grocery store shelves has been modified by human hands at the genetic level. The foods we eat are modified using various breeding methods. Breeding alters a plant’s genes so that it expresses new traits. That’s how we get those desirable family favorites such as, seedless watermelons and grapes, red grapefruit, peanuts, honey crisp apples and other foods.
Are GMOs safe for humans?
To date, more than 2,000 peer-reviewed studies have confirmed that GMOs are safe for human consumption. While there have been a handful of studies that state otherwise, these studies have been roundly debunked by scientists around the world. With over 25 years of independent research, there is no documented evidence of harm to human health or deaths from consumption of GM foods. (National Research Council, European Commission)
Before GMOs can even enter the marketplace, years of rigorous scientific study are conducted to ensure they are safe for people, animals and the environment. On average, it takes 13 years for GMOs to enter the market, and they must be approved by scientists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Why do farmers use genetically modified/biotech crops?
Biotechnology is used to help crops improve their resistance to insects and disease, which helps farmers produce a healthier more abundant crop. The use of biotech hybrids has allowed farmers to dramatically reduce the use of pesticides and fuel to raise their crops. Biotechnology saves the equivalent of 521,000 pounds of pesticides each year and helps cut herbicide runoff by 70 percent. (Sources: ISAAA, PG Economics)
Biotech hybrids have allowed farmers to improve sustainability through no-till practices, which conserve moisture, reduce irrigation, reduce chemical use and save trips across the field. The less energy crops have to expend on protecting themselves from pest and weed pressure, the more energy they have available to utilize water and nutrients efficiently to produce more grain. Healthier plants with strong root systems perform better in every respect.
What is CRISPR?
CRISPR is an acronym for the next generation of precise gene editing that holds great promise for not only the production of crops and livestock, but also for the development of medicines and therapies that could have a dramatic positive effect on human health. CRISPR is being hailed as a powerful new tool to control which genes get “expressed” in plants, animals and humans; the ability to delete undesirable traits and, potentially, add desirable traits with more precision than ever before.