Potential Solutions & Ideas For The Future Use & Management Of GMOs In Society

Potential Solutions & Ideas For The Future Use & Management Of GMOs In Society

There seems to be three sides when it comes to the use of GMOs.

There’s those who oppose it (such as organic and sustainable farming supporters), those who support it (such as the big GMO companies), and those who fall somewhere in between or are unsure.

What this guide outlines is potential ways to use GMOs in society in the future while taking a a balanced view of each side.

 

Why It’s Argued We Need GMOs Into The Future

There’s various issues facing society now and over the next 50-100 years, such as:

  • a growing population
  • a need for increased food production to feed more people
  • a lack of suitable agricultural land to grow food (due to urbanization, salinization, desertification, and environmental degradation)
  • water scarcity issues
  • climate change and global warming from greenhouse gas emissions
  • air, soil and water pollution
  • + more

Now consider that GMO food and crops can be genetically engineered to reportedly:

  • retain more water and need less water to grow
  • produce higher yields
  • use less land
  • grow in poorer quality soils, fight pests and pathogens
  • need less inputs and use less energy (producing less greenhouse gases)
  • need less pesticide and fertilizer (leading to less pollution)
  • + more

Based on the reported capabilities of genetically engineering crops and food – these capabilities have the ability to address many of the issues we face.

 

According to blogs.umass.edu, GMO has already shown immense benefits:

  • ‘Over the past 50 years, population grew substantially and the demand for efficient food production increased.  GM crop development accelerated immensely in the past 30 years to try and sustain the global demands for food.  
  • According to the Department of Plant Pathology and the Genome Center, “in Bangladesh and India, four million tons of rice, enough to feed 30 million people, is lost each year to flooding,” and their team engineered a species of rice with a flood resistant gene (Ronald, 2014, p.2). This flood resistant gene enables more plants to survive floods, and more people are subsequently able to eat the plants.
  • In our current food system in the Unites States, 80% of food contains derivatives from genetically engineered crops. (Ronald, 2014).  The food market is already reliant on GM crop production to feed the people alive right now, and the demand for GM crop production will only increase as the population grows in the future.
  • Certain staple crops like cultivated papayas and bananas would be extinct due to noxious diseases if GM resistant varieties were not developed (Ronald, 2014).’

 

According to TheConversation.com, reports on the adoption of GM technology has already shown favorable results:

  • In the most comprehensive meta-analysis (of 147 publications) to date, researchers from Goettingen University have concluded that the adoption of GM technology has:
    • Reduced pesticide use by 37%
    • Increased crop yield by 22%
    • Increased farmer profits by 68%.
  • The yield and profit gains are considerably higher in developing countries than in developed countries, and 53% of GM crops are grown in developing countries.

 

Why It’s Argued We Don’t Need GMO’s Into The Future (or, why we don’t need to heavily rely on them)

However, there are also sources that point out:

  • GMOs have their potential drawbacks
  • By using GMOs to address other issues – we are simply using a band aid to cover up existing issues instead of solving those issues and putting in place solutions for them instead.

 

We’ve outlined some of the potential cons of GMOs.

But, Earthopensource.org also outlines potential cons and also outlines how there are other options and solutions outside of GMOs to help us going forward:

‘a large and growing body of scientific and other authoritative evidence shows that these claims are not true. On the contrary, evidence presented in this report indicates that GM crops:

  • Are laboratory-made, using technology that is totally different from natural breeding methods, and pose different risks from non-GM crops
  • Can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts
  • Are not adequately regulated to ensure safety
  • Do not increase yield potential
  • Do not reduce pesticide use but increase it
  • Create serious problems for farmers, including herbicide-tolerant “superweeds”, compromised soil quality, and increased disease susceptibility in crops
  • Have mixed economic effects and disrupt markets
  • Harm soil quality, disrupt ecosystems, and reduce biodiversity
  • Do not offer effective solutions to climate change
  • Are as energy-hungry as any other chemically-farmed crops
  • Cannot solve the problem of world hunger but distract from its real causes – poverty, lack of access to food and, increasingly, lack of access to land to grow it on.

… there is no need to take risks with GM crops when effective, readily available, and sustainable solutions to the problems that GM technology is claimed to address already exist. Conventional plant breeding, in some cases helped by safe modern technologies like gene mapping and marker assisted selection, continues to outperform GM in producing high-yield, drought-tolerant, and pest- and disease-resistant crops that can meet our present and future food needs.

The quality and efficacy of our food production system depends only partly on crop genetics. The other part of the equation is farming methods. What is needed are not just high-yielding, climate-ready, and disease-resistant crops, but productive, climate-ready, and disease-resistant agriculture.’

 

What Might Be The Best Use Of GMOs Into The Future, & The Best Way Of Managing GMOs?

At the two opposite ends of the spectrum, you have farming with GMO seeds, and then a more organic type of farming with natural seeds and natural inputs – essentially sustainable type farming.

What might be the best approach instead of taking one side (organic/sustainable, or GMO), is to look at the benefits and risks/drawbacks of both models, and combine the best parts of both farming practices while keeping negative short and long term impact to a minimum.

Different countries, different growing conditions, different crops and foods – all have their own challenges and solutions for farming and agriculture.

An individualised approach to each situation (each GMO and non GMO crops or seed) might need to be studied and reported on when making statements about them. This can contribute to an overall approach.

The approaches should consider all factors:

  • the environment
  • wildlife
  • consumer/human health and safety
  • farmers
  • farm workers
  • the government
  • independent scientists and researchers
  • GMO companies
  • Developed, and developing countries
  • + other relevant factors and parties

 

TheConversation.com puts it this way:

‘… [we] propose that the case-by-case scrutiny of GM crops would allow the organic industry to show it is willing to use the smartest technologies for improving the sustainable productivity of food and fibre production.

Many labs around the world … are full of bright young innovative scientists who want to make the world cleaner and greener.

We have GM crop plants with enhanced nutritional qualities, pest and disease resistance, larger grain sizes and the ability to produce more food with lower fertiliser inputs. Many of these plants have been modified with only a few DNA letters altered from the “wild” genes.

Adoption would massively improve the productivity of organic agriculture, and the productivity boost would help make organic food price competitive. So let’s talk about GM organics.’

– TheConversation.com

 

RoyalSociety.org builds on this idea:

Crop genetic improvement, by GM or conventional approaches, is only one of many methods that can be used to improve crop performance. Others involve improvements in farm practices, irrigation, drainage, and herbicide, pesticide and fertiliser use. Better food storage and transportation to reduce waste can also play their part in securing a reliable supply of foodstuffs.

Genetic methods to improve sustainable increases in yield are very attractive because seed can easily be distributed to producers. It is also an attractive commercial target, because seed is a definable product that can be traded. 

Other developments include the use of GPS (global positioning systems) in what is called precision agriculture, so that fertilizers and pesticides are applied only where they are needed and in the right amounts. Remote sensing combined with computer technology is leading to better prediction and prevention of disease epidemics. And robots are being developed that could selectively kill the weeds growing among crop plants. 

New understanding of the interactions between crops and other plants or with microbes in the soil will also inform a farmer’s choice of crop management.

None of these innovations, including GM, are exclusive of each other and although some may be more expensive to implement than others, all could play a part in delivering sustainable agriculture that meets global needs. 

– RoyalSociety.org

 

One example of addressing a specific issue with GMOs such as the creation of herbicide resistant weeds, and the increased use of glyphosate herbicides, is provided by blogs.umass.edu:

  • create stacked herbicide resistant crops (resistant to different types of herbicides)
  • encourage farmers to spray their crops with different herbicides other than just glyphosate
  • use a wider variety of weed management methods such as crop rotation, cover crops and mulches, reduced tillage, precision agriculture, adequate seeding rates, seed quality, etc
  • test using Roundup Bioactive (which can be up to 14 times less toxic) instead of the original Roundup 

Changing the management practices of using herbicides will reduce the detrimental effects that many GM crops have on the environment, while simultaneously allowing humans to enjoy their benefits.

– blogs.umass.edu

 

TheConversation.com has an idea for approaching the regulatory process of GMO’s:

  • A reasonable balance between [the US and European] regulatory approaches is probably the most sensible way forward. Genome editing shouldn’t completely escape regulation.
  • If it can be demonstrated that the edited plant doesn’t contain any new genes (including CRISPR machinery) then the regulation should be much less stringent than for transgenics, because the changes are so similar to conventional plant breeding. Sequencing the genome of the edited crop is a good way to provide evidence of this…
  • Ideally, regulation should focus more on questions around the types of genetic modifications that we should allow in our crops than the way that they were introduced and where they came from.
  • But edited organisms shouldn’t be completely excluded from regulation. Evidence should be requested, and provided, that new crops are functionally equivalent to the products of conventional breeding and the subsequent approval process should reflect this.
  • The primary priority for policymakers and regulators is to ensure crop safety. Maintaining an open and transparent dialogue will be crucial so that the public can trust the decisions.

– TheConversation.com

 

Some Of Our Ideas For Improving The Management Of The GMO Industry Going Forward

  • Combine the best parts of GMO with the best parts of organic and sustainable farming (while minimising negative impact and risk)  – instead of just choosing one or the other
  • Consider forming an international GMO body with representatives from each country, that comes to some consensus on using and managing GMOs going forward, based on reliable/credible/non bias research, data and results from field studies
  • Bridge the gap between the US approach and the European approach to GMO growing regulations
  • Have a fully independently funded GMO research and testing organisation that has a fully transparent research process (there should be no question over how much access they are given to seeds or what restrictions they face in their research). They should have no conflict of interest either – the funding should be provided by an independent source such as the government
  • Have a completely transparent research process that GMO companies, researchers and the public can completely understand in a simple way. There should be no issue over the credibility of independent studies or how long term the studies are
  • Have some awareness over the monopoly a small number of companies has over GM seeds and some types of herbicides (such as Roundup)
  • Assess each GMO and non GMO food/crop/seed differently and individually instead of GMOs generally
  • Assess each growing environment different
  • Consider the short term, as well as the long term impact of GMOs – differentiate between them in reports and findings
  • Address other world issues directly (like overpopulation, climate change, water scarcity etc.) instead of using GMO as a cover up band-aid solution
  • Understand that agriculture is a business for farmers – you can’t expect them to pursue a certain type of farming if it has high risk and lower revenues//profits unless you subsidise them for it and help cover their risks and lost profits
  • Any solutions and ideas must eventually be refined to a point where they practical, but consider the benefits and risks for all parties and factors

Ultimately, this process isn’t a simple or straightforward one. It will take time, testing and refinement to get right.

 

Sources

1. https://blogs.umass.edu/natsci397a-eross/environmental-impact-of-gmos/comment-page-1/ 

2. https://theconversation.com/gm-crops-can-benefit-organic-farmers-too-51318 

3. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/pros-and-cons-benefits-disadvantages-of-gmo-crops-foods/ 

4. https://theconversation.com/tweaking-just-a-few-genes-in-wild-plants-can-create-new-food-crops-but-lets-get-the-regulation-right-104490  

5. https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/gm-plants/what-methods-other-than-genetic-improvement-can-improve-crop-performance/

Are GMO Foods (& Crops) Safe To Eat

Are GMO Foods (& Crops) Safe To Eat

GMO foods and crops are becoming commonplace in countries like the US.

Naturally, you’ll want to know if GMO foods and crops are safe to eat.

We’ve provided a short answer to that question below based on the latest available information.

 

Are GMO Foods & Crops Safe To Eat For Humans?

In short, they probably are.

The current scientific consensus is that:

… currently available food derived from GM crops poses no greater risk to human health than conventional food, but that each GM food needs to be tested on a case-by-case basis before introduction.

– wikipedia.org

 

Some of the sources that support this consensus are:

  • https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2017/06/19/gmo-20-year-safety-endorsement-280-science-institutions-more-3000-studies/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_organism
  • https://msutoday.msu.edu/feature/2018/gmos-101/ 
  • https://www.livescience.com/40895-gmo-facts.html 
  • https://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2014/09/17/the-debate-about-gmo-safety-is-over-thanks-to-a-new-trillion-meal-study/#70e1b2128a63 
  • https://gmoanswers.com/gmo-myths-vs-facts 
  • https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/gm-plants/is-it-safe-to-eat-gm-crops/ 
  • https://gmoanswers.com/are-gmos-safe-eat 

 

What About GMO Foods & Crops Fed To Livestock & Animals That Humans Then Eat – Are They Safe?

Via Forbes.com:

’29 years of livestock productivity and health data from both before and after the introduction of genetically engineered animal feed [was reviewed]…

The field data represented more than 100 billion animals covering a period before 1996 when animal feed was 100% non-GMO, and after its introduction when it jumped to 90% and more. The documentation included the records of animals examined pre and post mortem, as ill cattle cannot be approved for meat.

What did they find? That GM feed is safe and nutritionally equivalent to non-GMO feed. There was no indication of any unusual trends in the health of animals since 1996 when GMO crops were first harvested. Considering the size of the dataset, it can reasonably be said that the debate over the impact of GE feed on animal health is closed: there is zero extraordinary impact.’

– Forbes.com

 

Questioning The Studies & Research On Whether GMOs Are Really Safe To Eat

We wrote a guide here about whether we should question or believe the research and studies that go into providing the basis of the scientific consensus on GMOs and whether they are safe to eat.

There are some sources that point out how that consensus might be misleading by questioning the credibility of regular studies and independent studies done into GMOs (funded by GMO companies), the lack of long term studies on GMOs and human health, and how there are studies that have produced critical or negative results regarding GMO foods and crops.

Earthopensource.org also has a whole section (Section 3) dedicated to the health hazards of GMO foods at http://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/sample-page/3-health-hazards-gm-foods/ 

 

Some Sources That Question How Safe GMOs Are In General

  • responsibletechnology.org goes as far as to say ‘GMOs simply are unhealthy’ and outlines some unhealthy trends and patterns linked to GMOs
  • nongmoproject.org points out that “In the absence of credible independent long-term feeding studies, the safety of GMOs is unknown”
  • Forbes.com says that “the current implementation of GMO due to its effects on cropland, the ecosystem, and human health, and that research into GMOs is taking resources away from potentially much more helpful cross-breeding projects in the short run.”
  • What we do know is that the introduction of GMOs has coincided with a steep increase of the use of pesticides…
  • theconversation.com says that ‘glyphosate is safe if used as directed’ and there is ‘no statistically significant evidence for an association [of glyphosate] with cancer’

 

Some Stats On The Foods You Eat & GMOs

  • There are 10 genetically modified crops commercially available today in the US: alfalfa, apples, canola, corn (field and sweet), cotton, papaya, potatoes, soybeans, squash and sugar beets.

– gmoanswers.com

 

  • 10% of the world’s croplands were planted with GM crops in 2010. 
  • In the US, by 2014, 94% of the planted area of soybeans, 96% of cotton and 93% of corn were genetically modified varieties. 
  • In recent years, GM crops expanded rapidly in developing countries. In 2013, approximately 18 million farmers grew 54% of worldwide GM crops in developing countries.

– wikipedia.org

 

  • According to the US Department of Agriculture, GMOs account for 90% or more of the most common crops that are grown by American farmers.

– vittana.org

 

You can read more about the countries that grow the most GMO/Biotech crops in this guide.

 

Sources

1. https://vittana.org/13-vital-pros-and-cons-of-gmos 

2. https://gmoanswers.com/gmo-myths-vs-facts 

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_organism 

4. https://msutoday.msu.edu/feature/2018/gmos-101/ 

5. https://www.livescience.com/40895-gmo-facts.html 

6. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2014/09/17/the-debate-about-gmo-safety-is-over-thanks-to-a-new-trillion-meal-study/#70e1b2128a63 

7. https://gmoanswers.com/gmo-myths-vs-facts 

8. https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/gm-plants/is-it-safe-to-eat-gm-crops/ 

9. https://gmoanswers.com/are-gmos-safe-eat  

10. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/pros-and-cons-benefits-disadvantages-of-gmo-crops-foods/ 

11. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/should-we-question-or-believe-gmo-research-studies/  

12. http://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/sample-page/3-health-hazards-gm-foods/ 

13. https://responsibletechnology.org/10-reasons-to-avoid-gmos/

14. https://www.nongmoproject.org/gmo-facts/

15. https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkobayashisolomon/2019/02/15/heres-the-real-reason-why-gmos-are-bad-and-why-they-may-save-humanity/#10cf83d64877

16. https://theconversation.com/stop-worrying-and-trust-the-evidence-its-very-unlikely-roundup-causes-cancer-104554

Potential Impact Of GMOs On Humans & Human Health

Potential Impact Of GMOs On Humans & Human Health

There’s two sides of the debate when it comes to the potential impact of GMOs on humans and human health.

One side outlines the potential positive impact, while the other side outlines the potential negative impact.

Both sides are outlined below.

 

Potential Positive Impact Of GMOs On Humans & Human Health

  • There’s currently a scientific consensus that GMOs overall aren’t a significant risk for human health

To date, more than 3,000 scientific studies have assessed the safety of these crops in terms of human health and environmental impact. These studies together with several reviews performed on a case-by-case from regulatory agencies around the world have enabled a solid and clear scientific consensus: GM crops have no more risk than those that have been developed by conventional breeding techniques.

In addition, there is also extensive literature that compiles the socioeconomic and environmental benefits that transgenic crops have reported in two decades of commercialization 

– geneticliteracyproject.org

 

There is a scientific consensus that currently available food derived from GM crops poses no greater risk to human health than conventional food, but that each GM food needs to be tested on a case-by-case basis before introduction.

– wikipedia.org

 

  • Can be engineered to have a better or increased nutritional profile compared to conventional food and crops

GMO foods and crops can be engineered to include more nutrition, such as calcium, protein or vitamins for example

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

  • Is adequately regulated and tested

Some scientists say that GMOs are adequately regulated and tested for what they are, so their positive impact on humans and human health is nothing to worry about

– geneticliteracyproject.org

 

  • Decreases overall inputs for farmers

Some argue that certain GMOs can be genetically engineered to require less water, energy, land, pesticide, fertizlier and so on. This means less inputs overall for farmers

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

  • Increases yield and efficiency for farmers

Several case studies report that GMO crops and foods increase yields and efficiency of farming for farmers

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

  • Decreases time and effort required for farmers

Higher yields means you can grow more with the same amount of land

Because less pesticide has to be sprayed, this also means less time and effort spent spraying 

Less time also has to be spent on tillage

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

  • Decreases cost, and increases revenue and profit for farmers

Increased efficiency and decreased time and inputs means increased revenues and profits for farmers

This is reported by several case studies

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

  • Can help solve other social and environmental issues like overpopulation, climate change, water scarcity, world hunger, food waste and more

Genetically engineered food that is engineered to last longer, grow in conditions of drought, grow in dry conditions, grow in less arable soil, that needs less water, and higher yields with more food – can help address many of the social and environmental issues described above

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

Potential Negative Impact Of GMOs On Humans & Human Health

  • Do present more risk to human health than conventionally grown food and crops

Some studies that aren’t in the consensus are critical of GMO crops

These studies say GMOs do present more of a risk than conventional crops and foods, in the short or long term 

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

  • Can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than natural food and crops

Either through genes introduced in the lab (which can be an issue when it comes to labelling), or through mixing of genes out in the field

– choice.com.au, and bettermeetsreality.com

 

  • Is not adequately regulated and tested

Some say that the regulations and testing for GMOs in some countries or states are not adequate

For example, the US has far fewer regulations and prohibitions on growing and importing GMOs than Russia

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

  • Can increase inputs for farmers

Some say GMO crops, through factors like producing herbicide resistant weeds, can require more inputs such as pesticide

– blogs.umass.edu

 

  • Doesn’t increase yield and efficiency for farmers

Some say the reports that GMOs increase yields compared to other farming methods are not accurate

– earthopensource.org

 

  • Doesn’t reduce time and effort required for farmers

Compared to some sustainable farming methods, some say GMOs don’t reduce time and effort

– earthopensource.org

 

  • Doesn’t decrease cost, or increase revenue and profit for farmers

Compared to some sustainable farming methods, some say GMOs don’t reduce costs or increase revenues and profits

– earthopensource.org

 

  • Doesn’t decrease health risks for farm workers (because more pesticide is actually required)

If the same or more pesticide is required for GMO crops and food, the health risks are the same or increased for farm workers who work around that pesticide

– earthopensource.org, and bettermeetsreality.com

 

  • Can provide legal issues and costs for farmers

Some people report farmers having legal issues if their GMO seeds blow across into a crop or field with natural crops

Farmers don’t want crossing of genes in their crops, and this can create issues at the consumer level too

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

  • Can be risky and damaging to the livelihood of developing country farmers

GMO seeds, some say, are provided with a restrictive contract to developing country farmers, and they aren’t renewable like natural seeds

This places debt and burden on these farmers to produce a worthwhile yield in one or two seasons, and can ruin some farmers financially if they have a bad season or two

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

  • Is simple a band-aid for other social and environmental issues like climate change, water scarcity, world hunger, food waste and more. Instead, we should focus on fixing the core problems with these other issues

Some argue that by using GMOs as a band aid to the above issues, that we are avoiding those issues.

Instead of avoiding, we should be solving the core issues

– earthopensource.org

 

Sources

1. https://www.choice.com.au/food-and-drink/food-warnings-and-safety/food-safety/articles/are-you-eating-gm-food#2%20what%20GM%20foods%20are%20grown%20in%20australia?  

2. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/pros-and-cons-benefits-disadvantages-of-gmo-crops-foods/ 

3. https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2017/06/19/gmo-20-year-safety-endorsement-280-science-institutions-more-3000-studies/

4. https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2016/01/13/no-long-term-gmo-studies-humans/ 

5. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/should-we-question-or-believe-gmo-research-studies/ 

6. http://www.geneticallymodifiedfoods.co.uk/longterm-effects-gm-foods.html 

7. https://gmoanswers.com/gmo-myths-vs-facts

8. https://blogs.umass.edu/natsci397a-eross/environmental-impact-of-gmos/comment-page-1/ 

9. http://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/sample-page/summary/  

10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_organism 

Potential Impact Of GMOs On The Environment

Potential Impact Of GMOs On The Environment

There’s two sides of the debate when it comes to the potential impact of GMOs on the environment.

One side outlines the potential positive impact, while the other side outlines the potential negative.

Both sides are outlined below.

 

Potential Positive Impact Of GMOs On The Environment

  • There’s currently a scientific consensus that GMOs overall aren’t a big risk for the environment

To date, more than 3,000 scientific studies have assessed the safety of these crops in terms of human health and environmental impact. These studies together with several reviews performed on a case-by-case from regulatory agencies around the world have enabled a solid and clear scientific consensus: GM crops have no more risk than those that have been developed by conventional breeding techniques.

In addition, there is also extensive literature that compiles the socioeconomic and environmental benefits that transgenic crops have reported in two decades of commercialization 

– geneticliteracyproject.org

 

  • Reduced land use

What is increasingly reported about GMO farms is that they produce higher yields.

Higher yields means producing the same or a higher amount of food from the same plot area of land.

Reduced land use is beneficial for a range of reasons environmentally.

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

GM crops increase productivity on existing agricultural land and protect biodiversity by sparing lands not intensively cultivated. Through enhanced adoption of conservation tillage practices, the reduction of insecticide use, and the use of more environmentally benign herbicides that increase yields, GM agriculture has alleviated pressure to convert additional land into agricultural use.

– gmoanswers.com

 

  • Reduced soil erosion and soil contamination

GMO crops and foods are reported to increase conservation tillage, decrease pesticide use, and decrease fertilizer use.

Decreased overall tillage means soil is disturbed less, and less synthetic chemicals means less soil contamination.

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

  • Reduced water pollution

GMO crops and foods that are engineered to be more pest resistant and need less nitrogen, don’t need as much pesticide or fertilizer.

A common issue in agriculture is run off of pesticide chemicals and nitrogen from fertiliser into water sources, which pollutes the water.

Less pesticides and fertilizers has the potential to decrease water pollution. 

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

  • Reduced air pollution

As outlined above, GMOs can reduce the need for pesticides and fertilizer.

Pesticides can get into the air and reduce air quality, and nitrogen can break down and emit ammonia or nitrous oxide into the air.

GMOs can reduce air pollution in this way.

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

  • Can help conserve water

GMO seeds can be engineered to retain moisture longer, which reduces the need for freshwater irrigation.

This helps conserve water.

 

  • Reduced impact on climate change, water scarcity/freshwater resources, land use and other environmental issues

GMO seeds that use less inputs, less energy, less land, less water etc. – all help address bigger environmental issues like global warming, water scarcity, land use and land erosion and more.

 

Potential Negative Impact Of GMOs On The Environment

  • Can create super or herbicide resistant weeds

Weeds in certain parts of the world or on different farms have started to show resistance to certain herbicides, and this has been linked to herbicide tolerant GMOs

Herbicide resistant weeds can be hard to eradicate and can take over other plant species in their environment, as well as require more or different herbicides to eradicate

 

An example of herbicide resistant weeds has been seen in North America with glyphosate resistance (GR) shown by the weeds there. The more you spray glyphosate, the more likely it is that the weeds will evolve to survive glyphosate treatment.  

– blogs.umass.edu

 

  • Can reduce biodiversity

Through having GMOs that are engineered all the same, and especially if super weeds or super plants develop and take over other plant populations

Whereas, with natural foods, crops and plants, may produce more diversity in gene sets

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

  • More water pollution

If super weeds develop, and GMO crops are sprayed with MORE herbicides, this increases the chance of runoff of these herbicides into water sources

– http://earthopensource.org, bettermeetsreality.com

 

The increased amount of spraying due to GR weeds leads to a higher amount of glyphosate found in our groundwater, surface water, soils, and precipitation

The glyphosate can pollute through runoff, pesticide-drift, and leaching through the ground.

– blogs.umass.ed

 

  • More air pollution

If more herbicide is used, or insecticides – to treat weeds and pests – this increases the amount of chemicals in the air and lowers air quality as well as polluting the air

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

  • More soil contamination, and more soil erosion

If more pesticide is used on weeds and pests, this increases the amount of chemicals that seep into the soil, and increases soil contamination.

Also, if resistant weeds develop, more soil tillage is required and this erodes the soil further

 

  • Unintended effects on biogeochemistry

Especially through impacts on soil microbial populations that regulate the flow of nitrogen, phosphorus and other essential elements

– fao.org

 

  • The transfer of inserted genetic material to other domesticated or native populations

Generally known as gene flow, through pollination, mixed matings, dispersal or microbial transfer.

– fao.org

 

This can happen out in the wild between natural and GMO plants, crops and foods.

 

Sources

1. https://blogs.umass.edu/natsci397a-eross/environmental-impact-of-gmos/comment-page-1/

2. http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/x9602e/x9602e07.htm

3. https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2017/06/19/gmo-20-year-safety-endorsement-280-science-institutions-more-3000-studies/

4. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/pros-and-cons-benefits-disadvantages-of-gmo-crops-foods/

5. https://gmoanswers.com/gmo-myths-vs-facts 

6. http://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/sample-page/summary/ 

7. http://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/sample-page/5-gm-crops-impacts-farm-environment/ 

Potential Impact Of GMOs On Wildlife & Animals

Potential Impact Of GMOs On The Wildlife & Animals

There’s two sides of the debate when it comes to the potential impact of GMOs on wildlife and animals.

One side outlines the positive impact, while the other side outlines the negative.

Both sides are outlined below.

 

Potential Positive Impact Of GMOs On Wildlife & Animals

  • Can increase the amount of beneficial insects while decreasing primary pest populations

Because GMO crops and food can be engineered to be more pest resistant and not need as much pesticide, some argue primary pest populations aren’t as much of an issue, but beneficial insect populations have a chance to thrive without as much pesticide being used

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

  • Do not harm secondary populations of animals any more than conventional crops and foods

For example with bees and Monarch butterflies, there are multiple factors (GMO could be one of many factors, but definitely not the sole factor) which can lead to a decrease in their population, despite what is commonly said about GMO impact on these types of species

Conventional crops and food which are also sprayed with pesticide are equally as much of a problem for wildlife

– gmoanswers.com, and fao.org 

 

  • Does not harm or damage wildlife any more than conventional crops and food, and may even decrease damage to wildlife and animals

There’s not a huge amount of evidence to say that GMOs cause any more damage to wildlife compared to conventional food and crops

If anything, GMO crops that need less pesticides and fertizlier will generally have less of a detrimental impact on wildlife, as less toxic chemicals and nitrogen will get into the soil, air and water, or directly onto animals and organisms

 

  • There’s currently a scientific consensus that GMOs overall aren’t a big risk for the environment

To date, more than 3,000 scientific studies have assessed the safety of these crops in terms of human health and environmental impact. These studies together with several reviews performed on a case-by-case from regulatory agencies around the world have enabled a solid and clear scientific consensus: GM crops have no more risk than those that have been developed by conventional breeding techniques.

In addition, there is also extensive literature that compiles the socioeconomic and environmental benefits that transgenic crops have reported in two decades of commercialization 

– geneticliteracyproject.org

 

Potential Negative Impact Of GMOs On Wildlife & Animals

  • Glyphosate herbicide can be damaging to amphibians

Glyphosate is used in weed killers like Roundup. This chemical is water soluble, and can get into water sources like groundwater, rivers, streams, oceans etc. – and harm amphibian populations

It can be toxic for both directly to the animals, and indirectly via water pollution

– blogs.umass.edu

 

  • Glyphosate can be damaging to micro algae and crustaceans

Same as above – glyphosate can get into water sources and harm the living environment for micro algae and crustaceans

– blogs.umass.edu

 

  • Pesticide can be damaging to beneficial insects

Pesticides used for weeds and primary pests can still damage populations of beneficial insects with GMOs just as much as conventional crops and foods

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

  • GMOs can create super pests

Pests may develop a tolerance or resistance to certain pesticides even with GMO crops. This can sometimes create super pest populations which are harder to control and can significantly damage crop yields

– earthopensource.org

 

  • Can create unintended effects on the dynamics of populations, or on secondary animals and wildlife (like Monarch butterflies)

There is some information to support the claim that GMOs might be part of the issue of dwindling populations of bees, Monarch butterflies, other pollinators, and other organisms like beneficial soil organisms and beneficial pests

– fao.org, and earthopensource.org

 

  • Potential negative consequences of releasing GMO animals into the wild – such as salmon

GMO salmon or Tilapia may present issues to the ecosystem, food chain and general environment if ever released into the wild

These issues might involve predation, competition and genetic pollution

– fao.org

 

  • The impact of Roundup’s use on GMO seeds is questionable

While Roundup has not tested as toxic to humans and other mammals, the longer it has been on the market, the worse its effects on soil health and long-term plant fecundity appear. In addition, Roundup Ready plants may not allow necessary micronutrients to be absorbed by animals consuming them 

– forbes.com

 

[Overall, Forbes says: we should be] worried about the current implementation of GMO due to its effects on cropland, the ecosystem, and human health, and that research into GMOs is taking resources away from potentially much more helpful cross-breeding projects in the short run.

 

Sources

1. https://blogs.umass.edu/natsci397a-eross/environmental-impact-of-gmos/comment-page-1/

2. http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/x9602e/x9602e07.htm

3. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/pros-and-cons-benefits-disadvantages-of-gmo-crops-foods/

4. https://gmoanswers.com/gmo-myths-vs-facts

5. http://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/sample-page/summary/ 

6. http://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/sample-page/3-health-hazards-gm-foods/3-8-myth-gm-bt-insecticidal-crops-harm-insects-harmless-animals-people/ 

7. http://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/sample-page/3-health-hazards-gm-foods/3-10-myth-gm-animal-feed-poses-risks-animal-human-health/ 

8. http://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/sample-page/4-health-hazards-roundup-glyphosate/4-1-myth-roundup-safe-herbicide-low-toxicity-animals-humans/  

9. http://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/sample-page/5-gm-crops-impacts-farm-environment/ 

10. https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2017/06/19/gmo-20-year-safety-endorsement-280-science-institutions-more-3000-studies/

11. https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkobayashisolomon/2019/02/15/heres-the-real-reason-why-gmos-are-bad-and-why-they-may-save-humanity/#7311c974877b

Should We Question Or Believe GMO Research & Studies?

Should We Question Or Believe GMO Research & Studies?

If you read around a range of sources on the internet, what you will probably find is that most sources say there is a scientific consensus (based on the studies and research) on the safety of GMOs.

This consensus is that GMOs are safe, or that they present no more risk in safety than conventional crops and foods.

But, some sources question certain base factors that make up this consensus.

We wanted to dig a bit deeper to provide some arguments on both side of that debate, to question whether current studies and research can be relied upon to be trustworthy or not.

 

Questions About The Research & Studies Done On GMOs

  • The Cost Of GMO Research & Studies Are Supposedly High, & Funding Can Be An Issue For Independent Research

Cost of independent studies, research and tests can be high. This is the reason we may not see as many as we would like.

Independent researchers have to rely on either public funding, or a private funder – both of which can be a big hurdle

 

It can cost millions of dollars to get through the “deregulation” process [for biotech products and GMOs]

One reason that perhaps more independent testing wasn’t [or isn’t] done: [is] the cost [or research, testing and studies]

So, really, public scientists just don’t have the cash to conduct countless studies on the same topic.

That’s why we consider scientific studies that have been conducted by the biotech companies when the company is attempting to deregulate a new biotech seed. 

– https://gmoanswers.com/myth-biotech-companies-block-independent-research

 

  • GMO/Biotech Companies & Herbicide Companies Might Be Funding Certain Studies & Information On GMOs Available To The General Public

Related to the previous point about cost, GMO and Biotech companies (some of the same companies who provide certain herbicides as well) may be the main source of private funding for some GMO studies and research

People argue that studies funded privately by Biotech (& Herbicide) companies have a conflict of interest to make sure the results, or at least the results that are released publicly, favor the use of GMOs when considering safety, effects etc.

 

There are 5 other companies that, along with Monsanto, control nearly all of the GMO seed market. This include Sungenta, Dow Agrosciences, Bayer, BASF, and DuPont. This means a majority of corn and soybean products are not only profiting the farmer, but they are profiting companies as well.

– https://vittana.org/13-vital-pros-and-cons-of-gmos

 

[In 2008 Monsanto made] nearly as much on herbicide as it [did] on corn seeds. (Overall, the company expects to make $3.8 billion on seeds in ’08).

– https://www.gmwatch.org/en/10-reasons-why-we-dont-need-gm-foods

 

One example of a website that provides information on GMOs is GMOAnswers.com. On their about page, you can find who funds them and who the experts are that provide information:

GMO Answers [at the time of writing this article] was funded by the members of The Council for Biotechnology Information, which includes BASF, Bayer, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto Company and Syngenta.

The independent experts who answer consumer questions are not paid by GMO Answers to answer questions. Experts donate their time to answer questions in their area of expertise for the website. They do so because they are passionate about helping the public better understand GMOs and how our food is grown.

On occasion, independent experts participate in speaking or media opportunities on behalf of GMO Answers. In these instances, GMO Answers will reimburse for the travel expenses incurred by the expert.

– https://gmoanswers.com/who-we-are

 

  • The Credibility Of Existing Studies Is Questioned, & The Process To Get New Studies Done Is Restrictive

If you speak to, or read what some independent scientists and researchers have to say about the process of studying or researching GMO seeds and products – some say it can be a very restrictive, complex process

Some say that GMO seeds can be difficult to obtain, that there can be contracts to sign which stipulate how you can research, results can be edited out of the final published report, and some reports may not be published at all

Obviously, if some or all of this is true – this limits how much accurate research and study information can, or has been released to the public

This does throw some questions into the credibility of existing studies too.

 

In-depth food safety studies on GM crops and foods carried out by scientists independent of the GMO industry are rare. They are hampered by the difficulty of accessing GM seeds and the non-GM parent varieties from the developer companies.

Claims that the climate for independent researchers has improved in recent years remain unproven.

– http://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/sample-page/2-science-regulation/2-2-myth-independent-studies-confirm-gm-foods-crops-safe/

 

A good portion of the research on GM foods is funded by the companies developing these products.

There’s also the question of research access. Companies like Monsanto typically license out their products to universities for study. But in the past, some researchers have complained that they can’t get access, or that permission gets pulled if they conduct a study the company doesn’t like. In 2009, however, many companies responded by relaxing their restrictions on sharing seeds for research, although it’s still unclear if that resolved all the outstanding issues. 

– https://www.vox.com/2014/11/3/18092762/who-conducts-research-on-gmos 

 

  • Some Say That Scientists Or Researchers That Find Negative Results For The Use Of GMOs Face Consequences & Backlash

Those scientists who have managed to carry out such research and have found risks from the genetically modified organism (GMO) tested have suffered persecution. Some have paid with their careers and funding.

– http://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/sample-page/2-science-regulation/2-2-myth-independent-studies-confirm-gm-foods-crops-safe/

 

  • There Has Been Studies That Have Been Critical Of The Use Of GMOs

Including but not limited to studies by Gilles-Eric Séralini, Manuela Malatesta, Emma Rosi-Marshall, Arpad Pusztai, and Ignacio Chapela

– http://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/sample-page/2-science-regulation/2-2-myth-independent-studies-confirm-gm-foods-crops-safe/

 

  • There’s A Lack Of Studies On The Long Term Effects Of GMOs, & That The ‘Long Term’ Studies That Are Available Are Misleading

Even if the short term effects of GMOs have been studied, there are concerns that the long term effects have not sufficiently been tested or studied

It’s also argued that the long term studies that are available are misleading, and that they have double standards

 

Some GMO proponents and scientists say that many long-term animal feeding studies have concluded GM foods are safe. But this claim [is argued by some as not being] accurate. Few long-term and in-depth studies have been carried out and several studies that have been carried out have found toxic effects.

A review by Snell and colleagues purporting to present long-term studies showing long-term safety is misleading, with double standards being used to dismiss findings of harm while findings of safety are accepted at face value.

– http://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/sample-page/3-health-hazards-gm-foods/3-3-myth-many-long-term-studies-show-gm-safe/ 

 

Support Of The Research & Studies Done On GMOs

  • There’s A Scientific Consensus That GMO Foods & Crops Are As Safe As Conventional Crops & Foods – This Is Based On 1000’s Of Studies

There’s many sources that provide information on the current scientific consensus that GMOs are either safe, or present no more risk than conventional crops and food

Some of those sources are:

https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2017/06/19/gmo-20-year-safety-endorsement-280-science-institutions-more-3000-studies/ 

https://msutoday.msu.edu/feature/2018/gmos-101/ 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2014/09/17/the-debate-about-gmo-safety-is-over-thanks-to-a-new-trillion-meal-study/ 

https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/gm-plants/is-it-safe-to-eat-gm-crops/ 

https://www.livescience.com/40895-gmo-facts.html 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_organism 

 

  • Supporters Of GMOs Say That Studies Showing Negative Or Critical Results For GMOs Are Minimal & ‘Cherry Picked’

A common defence of GMOs is that there are 1000’s of studies that support the safety of GMOs, and only a handful or studies that show negative effects.

They say that people who don’t support the use of GMOs essentially build arguments around the small number of studies that show negative results.

They essentially ‘cherry pick’ from a small minority study to prove a point.

 

[there are a] handful of papers that suggest negative findings (but that have been heavily criticized by many other scientists in the field) and then there are hundreds of studies from all around the world that do not support concerns about the safety of GM food. If the popular media and activist groups cite safety concerns as an argument to stop GMOs, they do so based on a very small selection of carefully cherry-picked (and otherwise disputed) papers out of a trove of other papers that contradict their position. (If they use evidence at all.)

– https://www.researchgate.net/post/GMO_crops_Is_there_any_peer_reviewed_scientific_evidence_that_questions_their_safety

 

  • Supporters Of GMOs Say That Long Term Studies On GMOs Are Unrealistic

There are several reasons there are no long term studies on GMOs ranging from difficulty, logistics, variables, and that if people want tests on GMOs, why don’t they want them on other products that have been modified like seedless watermelons and sweet potatoes?

 

You can read more about those reasons arguing against long term studies here – https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2016/01/13/no-long-term-gmo-studies-humans/ 

 

  • Supporters Of GMOs Say That Research Into GMOs Is Not As Restrictive As Some Claim

Some say there were never prohibitions from biotech companies on independent research, and that there are limited restrictions on what researchers are allowed to do

 

The biotech industry has never prohibited scientists from doing independent studies on their seeds

Prior to 2009, biotech companies wanted the scientists to agree to a couple standards to protect their product and technology.

[As a result of talks in 2009,] principles made explicit an industry commitment to allow independent scientists to do any sort of research they wanted with commercially available seeds, as long as they weren’t trying to pirate the technology, and as long as they don’t sell or release the seeds into the wild afterward

[Those principles and objectives are viewable, as is Monsanto’s policy – http://www.amseed.org/pdfs/issues/biotech/research-commercially-available-seed-products.pdf, and https://monsanto.com/company/media/statements/academic-research-agreements/]

– https://gmoanswers.com/myth-biotech-companies-block-independent-research

 

  • Supporters Of GMOs Say That Reasons For Not Supporting GMO Research Or Studies Are Based On Reasons Outside Of Science 

These reasons can be political, economic, personal or others.

 

When nations ban the importation or cultivation of GMO products, such moves are generally driven not by science, as the independent science organizations in every major country have come out with public statements that GM products are safe. Other factors are trade protectionism, pressure from activists, public uneasiness or a desire to protect a country’s image—such as the French belief that genetic crops could “contaminate” the country’s reputation as a world food capital. As is often the case with GMOs, the situation in the European Union suggests how divisive and political this issue has become.

The EU has witnessed numerous skirmishes between scientists and politically-based opposition. Scottish leaders, for example, admitted that their decision to opt out of GMO cultivation was based on marketing concerns, rather than science. And when the European Commission’s science adviser, Anne Glover, spoke in favor of the science of genetic engineering, she found herself out of a job following intense lobbying by opposition groups. Bans almost always run counter to the advice of scientists and agricultural experts in the nations where they are implemented.

– https://gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org/FAQ/where-are-gmos-grown-and-banned/

 

The main reasons other countries haven’t followed suit [in planting some types of GM crops] are political and economic.

The negative attitude to GM crops found in Europe, where they import GM crops such as soybeans for animal feed but do not allow their own farmers to plant it, has had a strong influence on African politicians.

The reluctance of so many African countries to GMOs is also attributed to fears about the impact it would have on trade with other countries, particularly Europe where a number of countries have banned GM imports.

– https://theconversation.com/why-genetically-modified-crops-have-been-slow-to-take-hold-in-africa-44195

 

Sources

1. https://gmoanswers.com/myth-biotech-companies-block-independent-research 

2. https://gmoanswers.com/who-we-are

3. https://vittana.org/13-vital-pros-and-cons-of-gmos

4. https://www.gmwatch.org/en/10-reasons-why-we-dont-need-gm-foods

5. https://www.vox.com/2014/11/3/18092762/who-conducts-research-on-gmos

6. http://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/sample-page/2-science-regulation/2-2-myth-independent-studies-confirm-gm-foods-crops-safe/

7. http://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/sample-page/3-health-hazards-gm-foods/3-3-myth-many-long-term-studies-show-gm-safe/

8. https://gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org/FAQ/where-are-gmos-grown-and-banned/

9. https://theconversation.com/why-genetically-modified-crops-have-been-slow-to-take-hold-in-africa-44195

10. https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2017/06/19/gmo-20-year-safety-endorsement-280-science-institutions-more-3000-studies/ 

11. https://msutoday.msu.edu/feature/2018/gmos-101/ 

12. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2014/09/17/the-debate-about-gmo-safety-is-over-thanks-to-a-new-trillion-meal-study/ 

13. https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/gm-plants/is-it-safe-to-eat-gm-crops/ 

14. https://www.livescience.com/40895-gmo-facts.html 

15. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_organism 

16. https://www.researchgate.net/post/GMO_crops_Is_there_any_peer_reviewed_scientific_evidence_that_questions_their_safety 

17. https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2016/01/13/no-long-term-gmo-studies-humans/ 

Pros and Cons (Benefits & Disadvantages) Of GMO Crops & Foods

A List Of Pros and Cons Of GMO Crops & Foods

GMO crops and foods make up a large portion of the US market for some crop types now.

With this being the case, it’s worth knowing the pros and cons of GMO foods and crops.

Below we’ve done a quick guide/list of what these potential advantages and disadvantages might be.

 

Summary – Pros & Cons Of GMO Crops & Food

These are general pros and cons of GMO crops and food.

The reality is that the final list of pros and cons can be individual to the type of crop or food being grow, where it’s grown, how it’s grown, how it’s approved and regulated, and so on. So, each set of crops or food being assessed may have different factors or variables to take into consideration.

We actually wrote about how the use of GMOs in the future probably needs much clearer guidelines that bridges both sides of the debate, and considers all GMO seeds/crops/foods individually, along with non GMO technology and practices individually – and compare them objectively with independent short term and long term stats and evidence. Generalising GMOs as a whole is not specific enough.

Here is a condensed list of the potential pros and cons:

 

Pros

  • Plants and crops can be engineered for pest & insect resistance (which can mean less chemical pesticide has to be used and applied)
  • GMO plants and crops can encourage beneficial insects and soil bacteria
  • Plants and crops can be engineered for disease resistance
  • Plants and crops can be engineered for drought resistance (good for drought stricken areas, and also means less water might be used on those plants and crops)
  • Plants and crops can be engineered for an enhanced nutritional profile 
  • Plants and crops can be engineered for herbicide tolerance
  • Plants and crops can be engineered to last longer (which can decrease food loss and waste)
  • Plants and crops can be engineered for more efficient or better manufacturing processes
  • Plants and crops can be engineered for fewer pesticide applications
  • Plants and crops can be engineered for lesser high nitrogen fertilizer input
  • Some of the above engineering means less air, water & soil pollution
  • GMO foods and crops can lead to healthier soil (especially via conservation tillage)
  • GMO foods and crops can lead to safer conditions for farm workers, & less risks to their health
  • GMO foods and crops can lead to less time & effort invested by farmers for the same output/productivity
  • GMO foods and crops can lead to higher yields
  • GMO foods and crops can lead to better revenues & profits
  • Several parties can profit/benefit from GMOs, not just one
  • GMO food and crops can lead to more efficient land use
  • GMOS foods and crops can have a smaller carbon footprint
  • GMO foods and crops can help address other problems like climate change, water scarcity, world hunger, overpopulation, food waste/food loss, and so on
  • GMO food and crops can help preserve or increase biodiversity
  • GMO technology might be able to speed up what similar results we can get from cross breeding
  • Some sources say GMO foods and crops carry no more health risks than conventional food & crops

 

Cons

  • There’s already other solutions to population growth and providing a food supply to additional people
  • Most of the GMO crops we grow go to feed for livestock – which we might be able to cut back on by analyzing and changing our diets
  • Even with independent studies and research, there are questions over whether all independent studies on GMOs get published and/or edited
  • Outcrossing or mixing of genes can occur in the wild (where GE foods and crops mix with conventional or natural foods or crops, or a nut gene gets transferred to a soybean for example), and once GMOs have been released into nature, they can’t be recalled
  • Long term impact of GMOs are questionable or uncertain to some – for humans, animals and environment
  • GMOs could trigger food allergies in some instances
  • GMOs could trigger allergies in a secondary source
  • Could contribute to the formation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (via gene transfer)
  • Might be connected to cancer formation
  • Companies who own GMO seeds may have a monopoly over the market, which can create power imbalances, conflicts of interest, and reliance (by farmers and others)
  • A specific conflict of interest by GMO seed companies is their ownership of pesticides & herbicides that has grown in use significantly since the introduction of GMOs
  • Farmers in developing countries may be negatively impacted by the power big GMO seed and pesticide companies have in the market (losing leverage, power and independence. Seeds might not be renewable for example)
  • GMO farming may lead to legal issues for some farmers
  • Regulation, approval processes and labelling can get complex, & can cause issues between states, and countries
  • There can be unnecessary external political and economic pressure put on some countries to use or not use GMOs (not related to science and fact)
  • GMO crops can still be lost to weeds naturally resistant to herbicides (so they aren’t perfect), and can be the cause for new super weeds to develop
  • Can reduce biodiversity in some ways – mono cultures, and limited gene set
  • New diseases may emerge
  • Some question the evidence that GMOs provide specific types of benefits 
  • Can be other concerns with GMOs

 

What Are GMO Crops & Foods?

  • 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 desirable traits commonly transferred include resistance to insects and disease and tolerance to herbicides that allow farmers to better control weeds.

– gmoanswers.com

 

  • A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques (i.e., a genetically engineered organism).
  • A more specifically defined type of GMO is a “transgenic organism.” This is an organism whose genetic makeup has been altered by the addition of genetic material from an unrelated organism. This should not be confused with the more general way in which “GMO” is used to classify genetically altered organisms, as typically GMOs are organisms whose genetic makeup has been altered without the addition of genetic material from an unrelated organism.

– wikipedia.org

 

Potential Pros Of GMO Crops & Foods

  • Pest & Insect Resistance

Crops can be engineered to be more pest resistant to whatever the dominant pest or pests are in a particular area.

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

  • Encourages Beneficial Insects

Because there are less target pests, and less pesticide being sprayed, GE crops might encourage more beneficial insect populations

 

  • Disease Resistance

Crops and foods can be GE to be more resistant to certain types of disease that are prevalent to them

 

Through genetic engineering plant breeders can enable plants to resist certain diseases, like the papaya ringspot virus (PRSV).  The GM Rainbow Papaya, developed to be resistant to PRSV, allowed Hawaiian papaya farmers to recover from an outbreak of this devastating disease that crippled their industry.

– gmoanswers.com

 

  • Drought Resistance

GM crops that express drought tolerance have better moisture retention and can better endure drought conditions without the need for additional irrigation.

– gmoanswers.com

 

  • Requires Less Water, & Conserves Water

Crops and foods can be engineered to need less water, which saves freshwater supplies and means less irrigation

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

  • Enhanced Nutritional Profile Or Content Of Foods

Foods can be engineered to have longer shelf life, and have better nutrients, or more of a specific nutrient 

– vittana.org

 

Genetically modified soybeans with an enhanced oil profile, much like olive oil, have been developed and are longer lasting and trans-fat free.

– gmoanswers.com

 

For example, foods can be engineered to take longer to spoil, or to have more protein, vitamins, or calcium for example

 

  • Herbicide Tolerance

Crops developed to tolerate specific herbicides allow farmers to fight weeds by applying targeted herbicides only when needed and enable them to use conservation tillage production methods that preserve topsoil, prevent erosion, and reduce carbon emissions.

– gmoanswers.com

 

  • Reduced Food Waste

Genetic engineering has been used to modify potatoes and apples in order to eliminate superficial browning and bruising (potato only) when the produce is cut or handled.  These traits can help reduce the amount of produce thrown away by producers, processors, retailers and consumers.

– gmoanswers.com

 

  • Improved Manufacturing Processes

Certain biotech corn varieties enable more efficient biofuels production by improving the process through which cellulose and/or starch is broken down and converted to fuel.  This helps reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing process by decreasing the amount of water, electricity, and natural gas needed to produce biofuel.

– gmoanswers.com

 

  • Fewer Pesticide Applications

Because the crops are more pest resistant, they may not need to be sprayed as frequently or at all – this decreases pesticide costs, and decreases time spent spraying, as well as health and environmental benefits

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

  • Lesser Fertilizer Input

Some GE foods and crops might be engineered in a way to need less fertilizer, or, because the soil is healthier (from conservation tillage, less pesticide, etc.), the crops might need less overall fertilizer input

 

We have GM crop plants with … the ability to produce more food with lower fertiliser inputs

– theconversation.com

 

Less fertilizer can also mean less nitrogen is introduced into the environment – which benefits water, air, wildlife and more – as excess nitrogen has caused issues like air pollution and water pollution

 

  • Less Air, Water & Soil Pollution

Because there are less pesticides that have to be sprayed, there is less pesticide chemical getting into the air, soil and water, leading to cleaner air, water and soil

– bettermeetsreality.com

 

  • Healthier Soil (conservation tillage)

Crops and food that don’t need to be sprayed with herbicides as often or as much don’t need tillage as much. This can help preserve the soil as it’s not getting disturbed and eroded as often, and it also allows mulch and beneficial biomass to build up on the soil more frequently

 

  • Safer Conditions For Farm Workers, & Less Risks To Their Health

Particularly in developing countries where workers are exposed most to harmful chemicals – if there is less pesticide being sprayed – the conditions for farmers and their workers are better as there is less risk to their health

 

  • Less Time & Effort For Farmers

Less pesticide spraying, less tillage, and less organic related farming tasks mean less time and effort expended for farmers and workers on GE crops and food

 

  • Higher Yields & Productivity

GMO farms report higher yields for the same area of land as conventional farming

 

In the most comprehensive meta-analysis (of 147 publications) to date, researchers from Goettingen University have concluded that the adoption of GM technology has:

  • Reduced pesticide use by 37%
  • Increased crop yield by 22%
  • Increased farmer profits by 68%.

The yield and profit gains are considerably higher in developing countries than in developed countries, and 53% of GM crops are grown in developing countries.

– theconverstion.com

 

According to PG Economics, from 1996 to 2015, GMO crops are estimated to have contributed to an additional global production of 357.7 million tons of maize, 180.3 million tons of soybeans, 25.2 million tons of cotton and 10.6 million tons of canola. GM crops have contributed to higher yields, e.g., 30 percent more in some farming areas, and can contribute to poverty reduction and food security in developing countries.

– gmoanswers.com

 

  • Better Revenues & Profits, & Lower Costs

Higher yields, and less input costs, time and effort spent on growing and processing foods and crops – means more revenues and profits

 

  • Several Parties Profit/Benefit From GMOs

The global market for genetically modified crops was estimated at $14.8 billion in 2012.

Studies differ on how this money is divvied up. One 2010 review estimated very roughly that somewhere around one-third of the total economic benefit of GM crop technology goes to seed and chemical companies. Another third accrues to US farmers. The remaining third is split between US consumers and the rest of the world:

But, in general, it’s said that Seed & Chemical companies, US farmers, US consumers, and developed countries all benefit

– vox.com

 

  • Less Land Use

Higher yields for the same area of land, means you use less land overall for GMO farming

 

  • Less Carbon Emissions

Because you are using less inputs to grow foods and crops

 

There can be other benefits in GM crops, beyond yield and resistance. Rice produces 10% of the world’s methane emissions so imagine if somebody could reduce emissions by 90%, and make plants with larger seeds containing more energy.

Chuangxin Sun’s group at Swedish Agricultural University has done precisely that by transferring a single gene from barley to rice.

If all the world’s rice used this technology, it would be the equivalent of closing down 150 coal-fired power stations or removing 120 million cars from the road annually.

– theconversation.com

 

  • Can Help Address Other Social Problems Like Climate Change, Water Scarcity, World Hunger, Overpopulation, Food Waste etc.

All of these issues are either issues right now, or issues heading into the future.

Crops genetically engineered to cope with drought and hot/dry conditions, crops that need less water, and reducing food waste through having foods that last longer can all help address these problems

 

Food can be engineered to last longer, so it can be transported longer distances into rural or remote areas to those with a lack of food.

– vittana.org

 

Genetic engineering has been used to modify potatoes and apples in order to eliminate superficial browning and bruising (potato only) when the produce is cut or handled.  These traits can help reduce the amount of produce thrown away by producers, processors, retailers and consumers.

– gmoanswers.com

 

Through better food production with GE, we may also be able to address other world issues going forward like climate change/global warming, freshwater supply issues, water security, overpopulation, malnutrition and so on

– msutoday.msu.edu

 

  • Can Help Preserve Or Increase Biodiversity, Or Increase The Size Of Genetic Bases

Since we are dealing with narrow genetic and germplasm bases for most of our staple food crops, we may have to reach out to genetic engineering technologies and genes from other sources to improve them further

– msutoday.msu.edu

 

We currently rely on very few plant species for the majority of the world’s food production. More than half of our plant-derived energy intake comes from just three grasses (wheat, rice and corn). Gene editing could provide a way to expand this.

– theconversation.com

 

GM crops increase productivity on existing agricultural land and protect biodiversity by sparing lands not intensively cultivated. Through enhanced adoption of conservation tillage practices, the reduction of insecticide use, and the use of more environmentally benign herbicides that increase yields, GM agriculture has alleviated pressure to convert additional land into agricultural use.

– gmoanswers.com

 

  • GMO technology might be able to speed up what similar results we can get from cross breeding

[A Mexico City-based organization has created drought resistant maize varieties that yield up to 30% higher than commercial seeds under drought conditions … but this has taken years and decades to achieve … and they are 10 years or more from economic commercialization]

– forbes.com

 

  • GMOs Carry No More Health Risks Than Conventional Food & Crops

Various sources say GMO foods provide the same nutrients and the same health risks as organic foods

– vittana.org

 

Potential Cons Of GMO Crops & Foods

  • There’s already other solutions to population growth, and the associated need for a food supply for these people

Investing in cold food storage and transport technology for developing countries can cut down on food loss in developing countries

Cutting down on food waste in developed countries will save a lot of resources spent producing these foods

Along with these two solutions, there’s other solutions that can help provide a food supply to a growing population other than just GMO food and crops.

 

  • Most of the GMO crops we grow go to feed for livestock – which we might be able to cut back on by analyzing and changing our diets

Food-producing animals consume 70% to 90% of genetically engineered crop biomass, mostly corn and soybean

– forbes.com

 

If we stop eating as much livestock products, and look at the benefits of plant based diets, there is less of a need for GMO developing, funding and use.

 

  • Even With Independent Studies & Research, There Are Questions Over Whether All Independent Studies Get Published Or Edited

User agreements with half of today’s leading GMO seed producers prohibit the use of independent research on the final product. This helps to protect the royalties that the companies earn when farmers are able to harvest a yield through the use of their seeds. Since the seeds are considered company property, even the unintended growing of a GMO crop can result in the need to pay a royalty.

– vittana.org

 

Research into GM seeds is tightly controlled by the agritech companies that have given themselves the power to quash the work of independent researchers. Research on genetically modified seeds is still done by independent scientists, but only studies that the seed companies have approved are published in peer-reviewed journals.

– choice.com.au

 

  • Outcrossing Or Mixing Of Genes Can Occur In The Wild

Where GE foods and crops mix with conventional or natural foods or crops, or a nut gene gets transferred to a soybean for example

 

In 2000, it was found that a pest-repelling GMO corn crop that was only approved for feeding animals had cross-pollinated conventional corn crops nearby that were intended for human food.

– choice.com.au

 

  • Long Term Impacts Of GMOs Are Questionable Or Uncertain To Some

There are claims that there aren’t enough long term studies into the long term impact of GMOs on humans, animals and the environment

 

In the absence of credible independent long-term feeding studies, the safety of GMOs is unknown. 

– nongmoproject.org

 

The Australian Organic organisation says … there are no long-term studies on human health.

– theconversation.com

 

  • Could Trigger Food Allergies

There is no clear evidence that supports this, but it is an idea that some people believe could be true

– vittana.org

 

  • Could Trigger Allergies In A Secondary Source

In one case, GMOs that contained proteins from Brazil nuts were found to trigger an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to them. Because of this, any proteins that come from a different food item must be listed as part of the ingredients or growing process and be tested to determine their ability to cause an allergic reaction.

– vittana.org

 

In 1996, researchers found that when an allergenic Brazil nut gene was transferred into a soybean, the allergenicity from the Brazil nuts was transferred too. It wasn’t approved for market and, since then, the FAO and WHO say that allergenic proteins are not allowed to be transferred into a GMO.

– choice.com.au

 

  • May Cause Gene Transfer Of Antibiotic Resistance

GMOs are often incorporated with antibiotic-resistant genes in order to strengthen the crops that will grow. There is speculation, but no confirmed facts or correlations, that this process could be contributing to the formation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

– vittana.org

 

Although the probability is low, gene transfer from GM foods into bacteria in our gut, or cells in our body, could occur. There are fears that antibiotic-resistant genes used as markers when creating GMOs could contribute to antibiotic resistance.

– choice.com.au

 

  • Might Be Connected To Cancer Formation

A paper that was first published in 2013 linked the herbicide that is found in Roundup-tolerant crops to cancer development in rats. Some people are skeptical of eating corn because of this

– vittana.org

 

  • Companies Who Own GMO Seeds May Have Somewhat Of A Monopoly Over The Market

There are 5 other companies that, along with Monsanto, control nearly all of the GMO seed market. This include Sungenta, Dow Agrosciences, Bayer, BASF, and DuPont. This means a majority of corn and soybean products are not only profiting the farmer, but they are profiting companies as well.

– vittana.org

 

Many believe that the dominance of the global GM seed and agrichemicals market by a handful of chemical companies (including Dow Chemical, Du Pont, Monsanto, Bayer, ChemChina and Syngenta) puts farmers in financially vulnerable situations, particularly in developing countries.

Where once farmers had choice and saved their own seeds for crop regeneration, now Monsanto has them sign a user agreement that prevents them from saving and replanting the seeds, forcing them to reinvest each season. 

– choice.com.au

 

  • A specific conflict of interest by GMO seed companies is their ownership of pesticides & herbicides that has grown in use significantly since the introduction of GMOs

Biotech companies have certainly profited from GM crops, not least because seeds and genetic innovations can be patented. Monsanto, for instance, can sell both Roundup herbicide and Roundup-resistant corn and soybeans to farmers, who must repurchase the seeds every year.

– vox.com

 

More than 80% of all genetically modified crops grown worldwide have been engineered for herbicide tolerance. As a result, the use of toxic herbicides, such as Roundup®, has increased fifteenfold since GMOs were first introduced

– nongmoproject.org

 

  • Developing Country Farmers May Be Subject To Power Than Big GMO Companies Have

Losing leverage, power and independence, and going into debt.

Seeds might not be renewable for example or farmers may be limited by the seeds they can choose from to grow (by way of contract) – which can put developing country farmers in debt if they don’t make a profit on one particular season

 

… the companies that make GMOs now have the power to sue farmers whose fields have been contaminated with GMOs, even when it is the result of the drift of pollen from neighboring fields. Genetically modified crops therefore pose a serious threat to farmer sovereignty and to the national food security of any country where they are grown

– nongmoproject.org

 

 

  • GMO Farming May Cause Legal Trouble For Some Farmers

To protect GMO profits, patents are sought on certain seeds, which has caused legal troubles for some farmers who have had GMO seeds cross-pollinate with their crops, despite not planting GMOs.

– vittana.org

 

  • Regulation, Approval Processes and Labelling Can Get Complex, & Can Cause Issues Between States, And Between Countries

Regulations can different between what is allowed to be grown, and what GE ingredients are allowed in each country

Regulations can different between states within a country – making conforming to a federal GE regulation difficult 

Labelling is also contentious – with different requirements for what should be put on GE ingredient food in supermarkets. Some people want to know whether their food includes GE ingredients, while other don’t mind. Different countries have different regulations on whether GE ingredients need to be identified on a label

The approval process for gene editing for example is also an issue in places like Europe because it pushes up barriers to entry to the market, and might be driving money and talent out of Europe. In the US, approval and regulation isn’t as strict – but then safety may be an issue. There should be a middle ground between the two approaches

 

  • There Can Be External Political, Economic & Other Reasons To Not Use or Use GMOs 

Such as some countries in Africa who might be hesitant to introduce GM food and crops through fear of damaging trade relations with Europe, who has strict regulations on growing GM food

– theconversation.com

 

When nations ban the importation or cultivation of GMO products, such moves are generally driven not by science, as the independent science organizations in every major country have come out with public statements that GM products are safe.

Other factors are trade protectionism, pressure from activists, public uneasiness or a desire to protect a country’s image—such as the French belief that genetic crops could “contaminate” the country’s reputation as a world food capital.

As is often the case with GMOs, the situation in the European Union suggests how divisive and political this issue has become.

The EU has witnessed numerous skirmishes between scientists and politically-based opposition.

Scottish leaders, for example, admitted that their decision to opt out of GMO cultivation was based on marketing concerns, rather than science. And when the European Commission’s science adviser, Anne Glover, spoke in favor of the science of genetic engineering, she found herself out of a job following intense lobbying by opposition groups.

Bans almost always run counter to the advice of scientists and agricultural experts in the nations where they are implemented.

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

  • It Is Believed There Is Some Connection Between Herbicide Resistant Crops, & The Development Of Herbicide Resistant Weeds In The US – Which Has Actually Led To An Increase In The Use Of Some Types Of Herbicides, and Super Weeds Developing

We are talking about the impact of Glyphosate, Roundup, Glyphosate Tolerant Crops, Glyphosate Resistant Weeds and so on

– blogs.umass.edu

 

Genetically modified crops also are responsible for the emergence of “superweeds” and “superbugs,” which can only be killed with ever more toxic poisons such as 2,4-D (a major ingredient in Agent Orange)

– nongmoproject.org

 

  • The Increase In Herbicide Usage Can Cause Environmental & Wildlife Damage

Due to runoff into soil and water

And this affects amphibians and other types of wildlife

– blogs.umass.edu

 

  • GMO Crops Can Still Be Lost To Weeds Naturally Resistant To Herbicides

There are currently 64 different types of weeds which have been proven to be resistant to atrazine – all without GMO pairing. Farmers can lose up to half their yield from these atrazine-resistant weeds

– vittana.org

 

  • Can Reduce Biodiversity In Some Ways, Or Place Environmental Pressure On Other Plants, Crops & Foods

Modified organisms could be inbred with natural organisms, leading to the possible extinction of the original organism 

– livescience.com

 

If plants and crops and food are continually engineered and bred for the same traits – there may be a loss of overall diversity of genetic information, despite the more favorable new crops and foods being better for farmers and consumers

 

  • New Diseases May Emerge

Bacteria and viruses are sometimes used in gene modification, and some people believe this could lead to new pathogens. This is more so speculation at this point though

– choice.com.au

 

  • There Some Debate That Many Of The Pros Listed Above Might Not Be Exclusive To GMOs When Compared To The Results Achieved With Some Sustainable Or Organic Type Farming

We are talking about pros like increased yields, reduced pesticide use, reduced energy usage, increased revenues and so on

– http://earthopensource.org

 

  • Some Question The Evidence That GMOs Provide Specific Benefits

Despite biotech industry promises, there is no evidence that any of the GMOs currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.

– nongmoproject.org

 

Monsanto had marketed a drought-resistant corn product, but that this has not had great commercial uptake and its efficacy was questioned by a scientific study … [it is worth noting though that] Arcadia has not yet received regulatory approval for the product, so has not been able to sell drought-tolerant soybeans in Argentina. As such, the commercial impact of the product is still uncertain. 

– forbes.com

 

  • Can Be Other Concerns With GMOs

The key areas of controversy related to GMO food are whether GM food should be labeled, the role of government regulators, the effect of GM crops on health and the environment, the effect on pesticide resistance, the impact of GM crops for farmers, and the role of GM crops in feeding the world population.

The Organic Consumers Association, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Greenpeace stated that risks have not been adequately identified and managed, and they have questioned the objectivity of regulatory authorities.

Some health groups say there are unanswered questions regarding the potential long-term impact on human health from food derived from GMOs, and propose mandatory labelling or a moratorium on such products.

Concerns include contamination of the non-genetically modified food supply, effects of GMOs on the environment and nature, the rigor of the regulatory process, and consolidation of control of the food supply in companies that make and sell GMOs, or concerns over the use of herbicides with glyphosate.

– wikipedia.org

 

[we should be] very worried about the current implementation of GMO due to its effects on cropland, the ecosystem, and human health, and that research into GMOs is taking resources away from potentially much more helpful cross-breeding projects in the short run.

– forbes.com

 

Read some more reasons why some sources say to avoid GMOs at https://responsibletechnology.org/10-reasons-to-avoid-gmos/ 

 

Some Sources That Question How Safe GMOs Are In General

  • responsibletechnology.org goes as far as to say ‘GMOs are unhealthy’ and outlines human related health issue patterns, trends or occurrences that might be linked with GMOs
  • nongmoproject.org points out that “In the absence of credible independent long-term feeding studies, the safety of GMOs is unknown”
  • Forbes.com says that “the current implementation of GMO due to its effects on cropland, the ecosystem, and human health, and that research into GMOs is taking resources away from potentially much more helpful cross-breeding projects in the short run.”
  • What we do know is that the introduction of GMOs has coincided with a steep increase of the use of pesticides…
  • theconversation.com says that ‘glyphosate is safe if used as directed’ and there is ‘no statistically significant evidence for an association [of glyphosate] with cancer’
  • But, Forbes.com points out ‘While Roundup has not tested as toxic to humans and other mammals, the longer it has been on the market, the worse its effects on soil health and long-term plant fecundity appear. In addition, Roundup Ready plants may not allow necessary micronutrients to be absorbed by animals consuming them’

 

Some Stats On GMO Foods & Crops

Read more about GMO stats and facts in this guide:

 

Other Resources/Guides On GMOs That You Might Be Interested In Reading

 

Sources

1. https://vittana.org/13-vital-pros-and-cons-of-gmos

2. https://gmoanswers.com/gmo-myths-vs-facts

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_organism

4. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/pros-cons-advantages-disadvantages-of-organic-cotton/

5. https://gmoanswers.com/gmo-basics 

6. https://www.choice.com.au/food-and-drink/food-warnings-and-safety/food-safety/articles/are-you-eating-gm-food#2%20what%20GM%20foods%20are%20grown%20in%20australia? 

7. https://www.livescience.com/40895-gmo-facts.html 

8. https://theconversation.com/gm-crops-can-benefit-organic-farmers-too-51318  

9. https://theconversation.com/why-genetically-modified-crops-have-been-slow-to-take-hold-in-africa-44195 

10. https://theconversation.com/tweaking-just-a-few-genes-in-wild-plants-can-create-new-food-crops-but-lets-get-the-regulation-right-104490  

11. https://gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org/FAQ/where-are-gmos-grown-and-banned/ 

12. https://blogs.umass.edu/natsci397a-eross/environmental-impact-of-gmos/comment-page-1/

13. http://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/sample-page/summary/ 

14. https://www.vox.com/2014/11/3/18092770/who-profits-from-gmo-technology

15. https://www.nongmoproject.org/gmo-facts/

16. https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkobayashisolomon/2019/02/15/heres-the-real-reason-why-gmos-are-bad-and-why-they-may-save-humanity/#371234154877

17. https://responsibletechnology.org/10-reasons-to-avoid-gmos/

18. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/interesting-important-gmo-facts-stats/

19. https://theconversation.com/stop-worrying-and-trust-the-evidence-its-very-unlikely-roundup-causes-cancer-104554

List Of GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Different Countries

List Of GMO Foods & Crops In Different Countries

Not all countries grow, or import GE (genetically engineered) foods and crops.

Below is a list of the countries that grow GE, and the crops and foods they grow.

Note that some countries don’t allow the growing of GE foods/crops, but might allow the importation of ingredients (we’ve used Australia as an example).

 

Summary – GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Different Countries

  • The USA, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and India all lead the world in 2016 in growing the most GMO/Biotech crops
  • 26 countries have total or partial bans on GMOs … with 60 others having heavy restrictions on them
  • 38 countries ban the cultivation of GMO crops (as opposed to importing them which is different)

 

Countries That Grow GMO Crops

As of 2016:

  • Brazil, United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Bolivia, Philippines, Spain, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Colombia, Honduras, Chile, Sudan, Slovakia, Costa Rica, China, India, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Mexico, Portugal, Czech Republic, Pakistan and Myanmar.

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

Countries That Grow The Most GMO/Biotech Crops

As of 2016:

  1. USA – 72.9 Million Hectares
  2. Brazil – 49.1 Million Hectares
  3. Argentina – 23.8 Million Hectares
  4. Canada – 11.6 Million Hectares
  5. India – 10.8 Million Hectares
  6. Paraguay – 3.6 Million Hectares
  7. Pakistan – 2.9 Million Hectares
  8. China – 2.8 Million Hectares
  9. South Africa  -2.7 Million Hectares
  10. Uruguay – 1.3 Million Hectares
  11. Bolivia – 1.2 Million Hectares
  12. Australia – 0.9 Million Hectares
  13. Phillipines – 0.8 Million Hectares
  14. Myanmar – 0.3 Million Hectares
  15. Spain – 0.1 Million Hectares
  16. Sudan – 0.1 Million Hectares
  17. Mexico – 0.1 Million Hectares
  18. Columbia – 0.1 Million Hectares
  19. Vietnam – <0.05 Million Hectares
  20. Honduras – <0.05 0.1 Million Hectares
  21. Chile – <0.05 0.1 Million Hectares
  22. Portugal – <0.05 0.1 Million Hectares
  23. Bangladesh – <0.05 0.1 Million Hectares
  24. Costa Rica – <0.05 0.1 Million Hectares
  25. Slovakia – <0.05 0.1 Million Hectares
  26. Czech Republic – <0.05 0.1 Million Hectares

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

Countries With Partial Or Full Bans On The Growing Or Importation Of GMO Foods & Crops

26 countries had total or partial bans on GMOs, “including Switzerland, Australia, Austria, China, India, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, Mexico and Russia,” and … “significant restrictions on GMOs exist in about sixty other countries.”

In 2015, anti-GMO group Sustainable Pulse said that 38 countries ban the cultivation of GMO crops. The group’s list includes Algeria and Madagascar in Africa; Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, Bhutan, and Saudi Arabia in Asia; Belize, Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela in South and Central America; and 28 countries in Europe.

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In The United States

Alfalfa, apples, canola, corn (field and sweet), cotton, papaya, potatoes, soybeans, squash and sugar beets. 

– gmoanswers.com

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Brazil

Soybean, maize and cotton

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Argentina

Soybean, maize and cotton

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Canada

Canola, maize, soybean, sugar beet, alfalfa

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In India

Cotton

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Paraguay

Soybean, maize and cotton

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Pakistan

Cotton

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In China

Cotton, papaya, poplar

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In South Africa

Soybean, maize and cotton

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Uruguay

Soybean, maize 

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Bolivia

Soybean

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Australia

Cotton, canola

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods Ingredients Imported To Australia

Imported GM soya, Imported GM corn, Imported GM sugar beet, Cottonseed oil for GM cotton, Imported GM potatoes, GM canola

– choice.com.au

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In The Phillipines

Maize

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Myanmar

Cotton

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Spain 

Maize

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Sudan 

Cotton

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Mexico

Cotton, soybean

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Columbia 

Cotton, maize

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Vietnam 

Maize

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Honduras 

Maize

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Chile 

Maize

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Portugal 

Maize

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Bangladesh 

Eggplant

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Costa Rica

Cotton, soybean, pineapple 

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Slovakia 

Maize

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

GMO Foods & Crops Grown In Czech Republic 

Maize

– gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org

 

Sources

1. https://gmo.geneticliteracyproject.org/FAQ/where-are-gmos-grown-and-banned/ 

2. https://gmoanswers.com/current-gmo-crops

3. https://www.choice.com.au/food-and-drink/food-warnings-and-safety/food-safety/articles/are-you-eating-gm-food#2%20what%20GM%20foods%20are%20grown%20in%20australia? 

Why Do We Need GMOs Into The Future, & What GMOs Are Currently Being Used For

Why Do We Need GMOs Into The Future, & What GMOs Are Currently Being Used For

This is not a guide about whether GMOs and genetic engineering technology are right or wrong to use and create.

That is a separate question.

Rather, this guide focusses on what GMOs are used to do/achieve currently, and why they may be, and may not be needed for the future.

 

Why Do We Need GMOs Into The Future?

There are still questions about GMOs about their short term and long term effects on people, animals, and the environment and ecosystem.

But, the possibilities with GMOs about how they may benefit society are wide ranging.

With food in particular, GMOs have the potential to help feed our growing population – which is expected to reach around 9 or 10 billion by around 2050 (however, because we already produce enough food for that number of people – people point to fixing up food loss in developing countries with cold food storage technology, and decreasing food waste in developed countries as better solutions).

Genetic engineering can help with the future of food production.

For example, depletion of freshwater resources and climate change/global warming are two issues that are expected to grow in significance into the future (and are already fairly significant).

GE can help crops and foods be more resistant to water droughts – which can make agricultural growing conditions much easier on farmers when considering these two issues.

GE can also help increase yields and help food last longer before it spoils – so there can be more food and that food will take longer before it goes to waste – both of which can be helpful in feeding a growing population.

These are just a few examples of how we might need GE into the future, but there are many more examples of how GE can be useful to us as a way to combat other problems we may have.

 

  • Conservative estimates suggest that the human population will surpass 9 billion by 2050. The actual figure could be closer to 10 billion. Either way, this will require a massive shift in the way we lose or waste food, or we will need to boost food production to feed that many people.
  • Crops that are more adaptable to varying climate conditions and less vulnerable to pathogens and other pests will be significant pieces of the puzzle.
  • “We can’t control the fact that the population is increasing or that there is a finite amount of agricultural land — land that is decreasing in quality overall,” … Some people have fears about large-scale industrial agriculture and GMOs, and that’s why we should also be looking at things from the viewpoint of sustainability.”
  • Pests and diseases aren’t the only concerns driving the development and use of genetically modified crops.
  • Changing global average surface temperatures are also making farming more challenging worldwide.
  • … some food crops are naturally ill-equipped to handle the added environmental stresses, ranging from not enough rain to unyielding cold spells.
  • “Since we are dealing with narrow genetic and germplasm bases for most of our staple food crops, we may have to reach out to genetic engineering technologies and genes from other sources to improve them further,” … “Otherwise, we may run out of options.” 

– msutoday.msu.edu

 

Why We May Not Need GMOs In The Future

Some sources have a differing view on a need for GMOs into the future.

Organicconsumers.org and Earthopensource.org both outline reasons why a heavy reliance on GMOs might not be necessary.

From Earthopensource.org:

‘there is no need to take risks with GM crops when effective, readily available, and sustainable solutions to the problems that GM technology is claimed to address already exist. Conventional plant breeding, in some cases helped by safe modern technologies like gene mapping and marker assisted selection, continues to outperform GM in producing high-yield, drought-tolerant, and pest- and disease-resistant crops that can meet our present and future food needs.

The quality and efficacy of our food production system depends only partly on crop genetics. The other part of the equation is farming methods. What is needed are not just high-yielding, climate-ready, and disease-resistant crops, but productive, climate-ready, and disease-resistant agriculture.’

– Earthopensource.org

 

As mentioned above, addressing the issues of food waste and food loss in both developed and developing countries are also ways to address the food production vs population increase problem.

 

What Are GMOs Currently Being Used For?

Food & Crops

  • Insect Resistance – against pests for example
  • Drought Tolerance – better moisture retention, can better endure drought conditions, and need less irrigation from freshwater sources
  • Herbicide Tolerance – tolerate specific herbicides, allows farmers to fight certain weeds better, and allows farmers to use conservation tillage production methods that preserve topsoil, prevent erosion, and reduce carbon emissions.
  • Disease Resistance – against diseases that are known to damage or wipe out certain foods and crops. This saves profits, waste and increases yields
  • Enhanced Nutritional Content – can increase nutrition profiles with fats, protein and calcium for example
  • Reduced Food Waste – reduce browning and bruising of foods like potatoes and apples
  • Improved Manufacturing Processes – more efficient biofuels production by improving the process through which cellulose and/or starch is broken down and converted to fuel

– gmoanswers.com

 

Microorganisms

Bacteria

  • Bacteria have been used in the production of food for a long time
  • Specific strains of bacteria have been developed and selected for that work on an industrial scale to produce a large amount of proteins
  • There’s potential to treat diseases by genetically altering the bacteria to, themselves, be therapeutic agents
  • Bacteria have been used for over a hundred years in agriculture
  • Other uses for genetically modified bacteria include bioremediation, where the bacteria are used to convert pollutants into a less toxic form, and Bioart (a type of artwork with bacteria)

Virus

  • Viruses are often modified so they can be used as vectors for inserting genetic information into other organisms.

Yeast

  • As of 2016 two genetically modified yeasts involved in the fermentation of wine have been commercialised.

– wikipedia.org

Plants

  • Transgenic plants have been engineered for scientific research – plants are engineered to help discover the functions of certain genes
  • Transgenic plants have been engineered to create new colours in plants
  • Transgenic plants have been engineered to create different crops – for production of biopharmaceuticals in bioreactors as opposed to cultivating plants in open fields

Crops (food, and fibres/seeds like cotton)

  • Plants used in agriculture – this is a widely used practice – especially in the US
  • In most cases the aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species.
  • There’s also development of cisgenic (sometimes called intragenisis) plants in the works too

Conservation

  • Genetically modified organisms have been proposed to aid conservation of plant species threatened by extinction
  • This remains speculative though

– wikipedia.org

 

Mammals

Currently being developed in six main categories:

  1. to research human diseases (for example, to develop animal models for these diseases);
  2. to produce industrial or consumer products (fibres for multiple uses);
  3. to produce products intended for human therapeutic use (pharmaceutical products or tissue for implantation);
  4. to enrich or enhance the animals’ interactions with humans (hypo-allergenic pets);
  5. to enhance production or food quality traits (faster growing fish, pigs that digest food more efficiently);
  6. to improve animal health (disease resistance)

Research Use

  • Transgenic animals are used as experimental models to perform phenotypic (observing traits and characteristics) and for testing in biomedical research.

Human therapeutics and xenotransplants

  • Within the field known as pharming, intensive research has been conducted to develop transgenic animals that produce biotherapeutics.
  • Some animals are also genetically modified so that they can provide organs that are suitable and safe to transplant into humans (xenotransplants).

Food quality traits

  • Animals have been genetically engineered to produce certain traits in the food products or by products they produce
  • For example, Goats have been genetically engineered to produce milk with strong spiderweb-like silk proteins in their milk.
  • Animals have also been GE’d to change the way they digest to be more environmentally friendly too

Human gene therapy

  • Gene therapy, uses genetically modified viruses to deliver genes which can cure disease in humans.

Conservation Use

  • To conserve certain types and species of animals

– wikipedia.org

 

Fish

  • Genetically modified fish are used for scientific research – in genetics and development
  • Genetically modified fish are used as pets – such as the Glofish,
  • Genetically modified fish are being considered for use as food – in the aquaculture industry to increase the speed of development and potentially reduce fishing pressure on wild stocks. Salmon (by AquaBounty) is a fish that has been approved for marketing in the US. Trout and tilapia are other fish types that are under development
  • Genetically modified fish are being developed to detect aquatic pollution.

– wikipedia.org

 

Frogs

  • Genetically modified frogs are used for scientific research and are widely used in basic research including genetics and early development.

– wikipedia.org

 

Invertebrates

Fruit Flies

  • In biological research, transgenic fruit flies are model organisms used to study the effects of genetic changes on development.

Mosquitoes

  • In 2010, scientists created “malaria-resistant mosquitoes” in the laboratory.

Bollworms

  • A strain of Pink Bollworm has been genetically engineered to express a red fluorescent protein.

Cnidaria

  • Cnidaria such as Hydra and the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis are attractive model organisms to study the evolution of immunity and certain developmental processes.

– wikipedia.org

 

Sources

1. https://gmoanswers.com/gmo-basics

2. https://msutoday.msu.edu/feature/2018/gmos-101/

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_organism 

4. https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/10-reasons-why-we-dont-need-gm-foods#close 

5. http://earthopensource.org/gmomythsandtruths/sample-page/summary/ 

Types Of GMO Crops & Foods, What Traits They’re Engineered For, & What They’re Used For

Types Of GMO Crops & Foods, What Traits They're Engineered For, & What They're Used For

In this very short guide, we outline the common types of GMO Crops and Foods grown and available commercially in a few different countries.

We also outline the genetic traits engineered into these crops and foods, and what they are used for.

 

Types Of GMO Crops & Foods

  • There are 10 genetically modified crops commercially available in the US today: alfalfa, apples, canola, corn (field and sweet), cotton, papaya, potatoes, soybeans, squash and sugar beets.
  • The majority of these crops, like alfalfa, field corn and soy are actually used for livestock feed. Other uses for these crops include common food ingredients, such as sugar, canola oil, corn starch and soy lecithin. You may find only a few of these in your produce section: rainbow papaya, summer squash, sweet corn, potatoes and apples.

– gmoanswers.com

 

  • In the US, by 2014, 94% of the planted area of soybeans, 96% of cotton and 93% of corn were genetically modified varieties. 

– wikipedia.org

 

  • In recent years, GM crops expanded rapidly in developing countries. In 2013, approximately 18 million farmers grew 54% of worldwide GM crops in developing countries.

– wikipedia.org

 

  • Globally, food-producing animals consume 70% to 90% of genetically engineered crop biomass, mostly corn and soybean. In the United States alone, animal agriculture produces over 9 billion food-producing animals annually, and more than 95% of these animals consume feed containing GE ingredients. 

– forbes.com

 

GMO Crops & Foods In The United States – What Genetic Traits They Are Engineered For, & What They’re Used For

There are 10 genetically modified crops commercially available in the US today. The traits they are engineered for and the uses they have are:

Alfalfa

  • Genetic Traits (engineered for): Herbicide Tolerance
  • Used For: Animal feed

Apples

  • Genetic Traits (engineered for): Non Browning
  • Used For: Food

Canola

  • Genetic Traits (engineered for): Herbicide tolerance
  • Used For: Cooking oil, animal feed

Field Corn

  • Genetic Traits (engineered for): Insect resistance, herbicide tolerance, drought tolerance
  • Used For: Livestock feed, poultry feed, fuel ethanol, high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners, corn oil, starch, cereal and other food ingredients, alcohol, industrial uses

Sweet Corn

  • Genetic Traits (engineered for): Insect resistance, herbicide tolerance
  • Used For: Food

Cotton

  • Genetic Traits (engineered for): Insect resistance, herbicide tolerance
  • Used For: Fiber, animal feed, cottonseed oil

Rainbow Papaya

  • Genetic Traits (engineered for): Disease resistance
  • Used For: Table fruit

Potatoes

  • Genetic Traits (engineered for): Reduced bruising and black spots, non browning, low acrylamide (a chemical that can form when certain starchy foods are cooked or processed, and is linked to cancer in rats), blight resistance (blight is a fungal disease that affects tomatoes and potatoes)
  • Used For: Food

Soybeans

  • Genetic Traits (engineered for): Insect resistance, herbicide tolerance
  • Used For: Livestock and poultry feed, aquaculture, soybean oil (vegetable oil), high oleic acid (monounsaturated fatty acid), biodiesel fuel, soy milk, soy sauce, tofu, other foods, lecithin, pet food, adhesives and building materials, printing ink, other industrial uses

Summer Squash

  • Genetic Traits (engineered for): Disease resistance, food
  • Used For: Food

Sugar Beets

  • Genetic Traits (engineered for): Herbicide tolerance
  • Used For: Sugar, animal feed

– gmoanswers.com

 

GMO Crops & Foods In Australia – What Genetic Traits They Are Engineered For, & What They’re Used For

A country like Australia has far more restrictive regulations on growing GE foods and crops than the United States.

 

In 2016, there are only two commercial GM broad-acre crops grown in Australia:

  • GM cotton – More than 99% of planted cotton in Australia is GM.There are three types of GM cotton in use and all are owned by Bayer or Monsanto, which are on the brink of merging. Two of these cottons are herbicide-tolerant to help the control of weeds, and the other has an inbuilt resistance to a pest, reducing the need for insecticides.
  • GM canola – There are six types of GM canola licenced for use in Australia. All have been developed to be resistant to the herbicides used to control weeds. Five of these are owned by Bayer or Monsanto.

These are both found in many margarines and frying oils. 

Other GM crops being developed and trialled around Australia (but not yet commercially available) include sugarcane, safflower, banana, wheat, barley and white clover.

– choice.com.au

 

Growing GE Food vs Importing GE Food Ingredients

A country like Australia that is restrictive on growing GE (genetically engineered) foods may make more of an allowance for imported GE food ingredients.

For example, in Australia, they allow the following GE food ingredients in common foods available in supermarkets:

  • Imported GM (genetically modified) soya
  • Imported GM corn
  • Imported GM sugar beet
  • Cottonseed oil from GM cotton
  • Imported GM potatoes
  • GM canola

– choice.com.au

 

Sources

1. https://gmoanswers.com/gmo-myths-vs-facts

2. https://gmoanswers.com/sites/default/files/GMOA-GeneticTraits10crops-4x6_Postcard-Jan2018.pdf

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_organism 

4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2014/09/17/the-debate-about-gmo-safety-is-over-thanks-to-a-new-trillion-meal-study/#526d98a68a63 

5. https://www.choice.com.au/food-and-drink/food-warnings-and-safety/food-safety/articles/are-you-eating-gm-food#2%20what%20GM%20foods%20are%20grown%20in%20australia?