GMO Foods

What are GMOs?

Biotechnology in plant agriculture has come to mean the process of intentionally making a copy of a gene for a desired trait from one plant or organism and using it in another plant. The result is typically referred to as a GMO (genetically modified organism), however, the correct terminology is genetically engineered (GE).

What crops are GE?

Over the years many crops have been genetically engineered. Varieties of soybeans, canola, sugarbeets, corn, cotton, alfalfa and Rainbow papaya are protected from insects, tolerant of herbicides, or both. Squash has been made more resistant to a virus that often kills the vegetable on the vine. 

Are GE crops safe?

Before they reach the market, crops from GE seeds are studied extensively to make sure they are safe for people, animals and the environment. Today’s GE products are the most researched and tested agricultural products in history. Food from GE crops are digested in the human body the same as food from non-GE crops. Thousands of studies have and continue to demonstrate that GE crops do not present any health risk. In 2014, Italian scientists catalogued and analyzed over 1783 studies from 2002-2012, about the safety and environmental impacts of GMO foods. In all these studies, they found no health risks or problems. For the study click here.

What is the benefit of using GE crops?

Farmers select GE seeds to reduce yield loss or crop damage from weeds, diseases, and insects, as well as from extreme weather conditions, such as drought. GE crops reduce the impact of agriculture on the environment and their costs because some of these crops require fewer pesticides to control insects and plant disease. More than 13.3 million farmers around the world use agricultural biotechnology to increase yields, prevent damage from insects and pests and reduce farming's impact on the environment. Farmers have also used genetic engineering to save crops being threatened by diseases, such as the papaya from Hawaii. In the late 1980s, the Hawaiian Papaya was facing a significant drop in yield as the papaya ringspot virus was eradicating fruit. From 1992-1994, over 96% of Hawaii’s papaya crop was infected. Scientist developed genetically engineered a papaya seed, which contained proteins to allow the papaya plant to have an “immune response” and therefore be resistant to the virus. Hawaii papaya farmers begin using this genetically engineered seed in 1998 and today 77% of the papaya crop is grown using this genetically engineered seed, with over 30.1 million pounds of papaya being harvested per year according to the USDA. Read more.

Are GE foods labeled in Colorado?

For consumers wishing to avoid GE foods in Colorado, they can look for products that are labeled “certified non-GM product” or “certified organic” products.

What other industries utilize genetic engineering?

Modern biotechnology provides breakthrough products and technologies to combat debilitating and rare diseases, reduce our environmental footprint, feed the hungry, use less and cleaner energy, and have safer, cleaner and more efficient industrial manufacturing processes. Currently, there are more than 250 biotechnology health care products and vaccines available to patients, many for previously untreatable diseases. And more than 50 biorefineries are being built across North America to test and refine technologies to produce biofuels and chemicals from renewable biomass, which can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

For a map on countries producing GE crops click here.

For more information on GMO’s: