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The value of genetically modified seeds in Modern Agriculture

The Science Inside A GMO

What we eat is important.

Not just the nutrition of our food, but how it’s grown. It impacts our families and planet—and that’s serious business. Asking questions, especially when it comes to food, should always be embraced.

What is a GMO?

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism, and it can describe an organism created through genetic modification. Many products in industries like medicine, consumer goods, and agriculture are made with genetic modification. Common examples include insulin and laundry detergent. When it comes to plants, genetic modification refers to seeds. GM seeds grow in the ground like any other seed, only they have certain desirable traits. These seeds grow into plants that might better handle water-limited conditions or better withstand challenges like harmful insects, weeds, or disease.

GM seeds have been used by farmers for approximately 20 years. However, seeds have actually been modified through traditional plant breeding techniques for hundreds of years. Fruits like today's seedless watermelon and bananas, which are significantly different than earlier versions, are the result of traditional plant breeding techniques. Modern GM seeds can also be the result of traditional plant breeding that adds desired traits to plants—the combination of advanced methods and foundational plant science.

How GM seeds are developed:
  1. The desired trait (like disease resistance or drought tolerance) is identified in an organism in nature.
  2. The gene for the trait is transferred into the plant seed.
  3. The plant is tested to ensure that it is safe for people, animals, and the environment.
  4. After years of testing and approvals from governments around the world, the new seeds are available to farmers.

WHY GROW CROPS FROM GM SEEDS?

If you're wondering why farmers choose to grow genetically modified crops, it helps to consider the challenges they face every day: crop loss from weeds, insects, and disease, and the effects of climate change such as drought, just to name a few. Seeds improved through genetic modification help them combat these challenges, while also helping them use less of our precious resources like water and land.

[unex_ce_article_full_width_photo layer-name="Why Grow GMOs?" img="1024" image-filename="shutterstock_347852834_rs.jpg" id="content_zp4nasqre" post_id="111"] <h3>WHY GROW CROPS FROM GM SEEDS?</h3><p>If you're wondering why farmers choose to grow genetically modified crops, it helps to consider the challenges they face every day: crop loss from weeds, insects, and disease, and the effects of climate change such as drought, just to name a few. Seeds improved through genetic modification help them combat these challenges, while also helping them use less of our precious resources like water and land.</p> [/ce_article_full_width_photo]

Efficient Use of Natural Resources

Some GM seeds produce crops that are drought-tolerant—water-efficient plants can help farmers grow food while using less water. Herbicide-tolerant GM seeds allow farmers to manage weed growth without repeatedly disturbing the soil through tillage. Conservation tillage helps keep more moisture and carbon in the soil, and reduces farming's carbon footprint by allowing farmers to use less fuel.

Fighting Pests & Disease

Just like people, plants are vulnerable to disease—and can even see their existence threatened. The Papaya Ringspot Virus was a significant threat in Hawaii during the 1990s. Researchers were able to save the papaya by making a virus-resistant version. The GM papaya today looks and tastes the same as non-GM papayas.

Conserving Natural Habitat

GM seeds can help farmers make the most of their acres by allowing them to grow food without using more land. This has a positive effect on biodiversity, encouraging many species of plants and animals to continue to thrive even as our population grows.

Are GMO Foods Safe?

Farmers are consumers, too, and they want to feed their families safe, nutritious food while being careful stewards of their land. Scientists, for their part, place the highest priority on the safety of each product and conduct rigorous and demanding tests on each. In fact, GM seeds have been tested more than any other product in the history of agriculture—with no evidence of harm to humans, animals, or the environment. The data have been reviewed by hundreds of independent scientists and researchers globally.

What the Independent Research Has to Say

The American Medical Association

“Bioengineered foods have been consumed for close to 20 years, and during that time, no overt consequences on human health have been reported and/or substantiated in the peer-reviewed literature.”

Royal Society of Medicine

“Foods derived from GM crops have been consumed by hundreds of millions of people across the world for more than 15 years, with no reported ill effects (or legal cases related to human health), despite many of the consumers coming from the most litigious of countries, the USA.”

World Health Organization

“GM foods currently available on the international market have passed safety assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.”

National Academy of Sciences

“...the study committee found no substantiated evidence of a difference in risks to human health between currently commercialized genetically engineered (GE) crops and conventionally bred crops, nor did it find conclusive cause-and-effect evidence of environmental problems from the GE crops.”

Modern Agriculture
Means Many Options

GM seeds are just one option available to growers. There can and should be a variety of ways farmers grow crops, and they make decisions based on weather, resource availability, and consumer demand, often with the help of digital tools. More than ever, farmers are focused on innovations in the industry that allow them to grow food while also reducing their environmental impact.

[unex_ce_article_full_width_photo layer-name="Modern Ag Means Many Option" img="1023" image-filename="shutterstock_335355113.jpg" id="content_0wsfokrkq" post_id="111"]

Modern Agriculture
Means Many Options

GM seeds are just one option available to growers. There can and should be a variety of ways farmers grow crops, and they make decisions based on weather, resource availability, and consumer demand, often with the help of digital tools. More than ever, farmers are focused on innovations in the industry that allow them to grow food while also reducing their environmental impact.

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