In Defense Of Modern Ag: GMOs Are Safe

In Defense Of Modern Ag: GMOs Are Safe

Mary Hartney, FFAA 2013

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There’s so much misinformation posted on the Internet about genetically modified organisms (GMO) in food that it’s no wonder people have questions. Fortunately, a new site has been created for consumers to get their facts straight from the experts — without the hype, hysteria or fear-mongering detractors of this modern technology use to promote their anti-modern ag agendas.

Ask a question at GMOAnswers.com and you’ll get a reply (please be patient as the turnaround time for the volunteer experts to respond varies). The need for the site was driven by the recognition that misinformation about biotechnology has spread like wildfire in Internet blogs, posts, and chats. As a result, initiatives for bans and scare campaigns are rearing up across the nation.

In Florida, this concern led to the introduction of HB 1 “Genetically Engineered Foods.” This bill would mandate labeling requirements for genetically engineered raw agricultural commodities and processed foods made with or derived from genetically engineered ingredients.

This bill is a copycat of other GM-derived food labeling proposals that have been showing up in a variety of state legislatures. Proponents of bills like these would like to scare consumers into making other shopping choices such as higher priced organic or non-GMO foods. These labeling bills are very likely the first step to GMO bans or ballot initiatives. They have the potential to cost individual taxpayers hundreds of dollars in higher food bills and could prevent farmers from utilizing these perfectly safe and beneficial technologies. We can’t allow that to happen. The future of agriculture depends on its ability to use technology to do more with less: less water, less fertilizer, less pesticides as we fight more disease, more climate variability, and more economic pressures.

Truth And Technology

We embrace technology in so many aspects of our lives. I don’t know of many people still using carbon copies or IBM Selectric typewriters to communicate or asking their doctor to ignore the medical advances of the past decade. Why would we mandate that farmers and growers abandon modern technology?

We need to be educating consumers about how these advances are good for them, their health, their food budget, the environment, and are good for crops. In fact, the Florida citrus industry’s long-term future success may very well hinge on the development of a transgenic orange tree bred for resistance to HLB.

Scientific authorities, such as the National Academies of Science, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have looked at hundreds of scientific studies on genetically engineered foods. They’ve concluded that foods with biotech-derived ingredients do not pose any more risk to people than any other foods. The safety question has been asked and answered.

Let’s Talk

But others have said it better than me. I like how Daren Coppock, president of the Agricultural Retailers Association, put it in a blog post from last December: “What is true is that biotechnology crops have been used since 1996 — 16 years — without one single documented adverse effect on human health or the environment. Technology has always been the driver of productivity in agriculture, from mechanization, improved cultural practices, plant breeding, fertilizers, and crop protection products to today’s precision agriculture technologies. Hopefully, we will not need to see people starve in greater numbers to believe that more productive agricultural technology, with appropriate regulatory oversight, is essential for the survival of our species.”

It’s past time to stop being scared of our food. It’s time to start speaking out in support of biotechnology. Saying nothing means the fear-mongers will rule. Agriculture’s opportunity to use modern technology to solve our challenges will be curtailed if we don’t act now.
Help spread the word that GMO Answers has the facts. Your future ability to grow may depend on it.