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Should the U.S. Ban Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)?

Three questions for biologist Lisa Weasel on GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)

In 1996, U.S. farmers planted the first commercial genetically modified (GM) seeds. Some were engineered to resist herbicides so farmers could apply weed-killing herbicides without destroying their crops. Others contained genes to keep pest insects at bay. Today, about 92 percent of all soy and 80 percent of all corn grown in the U.S. is GM. These crops feed the animals that feed us, and they provide the bulk of our sweeteners and cooking oil. In fact, more than 70 percent of processed foods sold in the United States have ingredients from GM crops.

Yet GM crops remain controversial. France, Italy, Japan and several other countries have banned them because of health concerns and worries that GM crops may spread their engineered traits to other plants. Although company-funded studies and the FDA have labeled these foods as safe, a few preliminary studies suggest they are responsible for allergies, decreased fertility and super-weeds. “Genetically modified foods are a very misunderstood issue in this country,” says Lisa Weasel, a biologist at Portland State University and a member of Oregon’s task force on developing policy for biopharmaceutical crops. Her latest book, Food Fray: Inside the Controversy over Genetically Modified Foods (AMACOM, 2009), takes readers to the frontlines of the debate.

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Absolutely NOT! Decisions like this should be science-based, not politically/emotionally driven. These crops are thoroughly tested and have been shown to be safe. The world needs more food, not more hysteria.

K. Glassman, Des Moines, IA

Anonymous

09/01/2009 - 11:08am

I do NOT want to eat food that has been genetically modified. I think the FDA should protect the public and demand labeling of any and ALL GMO products so the public can make their own choices !!! I think it's disgusting that the FDA is allowing cloned animal products on the market without demanding proper labeling too. I really love the idea of Monsanto seeds being injected with the pesticide ROUNDUP. YUM, YUM !!! K. Glassman thinks it should be science based. HMMMMM!!! Let me see, the science community is usually financed by huge companies who make the GMO products. HMMMMM!!! Let me see, this can be compared to the pharmaceutical companies who do their own research on drugs that are passed through our government agency, the FDA, (YOU KNOW THE GOVERNMENT AGENCY THAT'S SUPPOSED TO PROTECT US)and then hundreds of people die of the toxic side effects BUT THEY HAVE BEEN PROVEN SAFE FOR HUMAN USE !!! When will the roundup poison start to harm our families ??? GMO ??? not on your life and SHAME on the FDA for allowing us to be USED AS experiments. Just my opinion !!!

Marianne, Leominster, MA

Anonymous

09/01/2009 - 11:09am

Pest resistent plants are a product of healthy soil. Start from the ground up. Our soil is so depleted, and then tainted with synthetic petroleum based fertilizers, it's no wonder the seeds planted in that soil need to be GMO. Healthy plants grown in healthy, rich soil repel pests quite well on their own. GMO has got to go! Also, GMO plants are sterile, their seeds cannot grow another plant! What happens when the patent holder on that corn seed, for example, decided to withhold seeds for whatever ransom? That's a lot of power for a heartless corporation.

Melanie, Kahler, CA

Anonymous

09/01/2009 - 11:11am

Absolutely, if possible. Be informed. GMO's are documented as creating health, political, social, ecological and agribusiness issues. Researched information can be found in "Seeds of Distruction.." by F. William Engdahl, "Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating" by Jeffrey M. Smith, and Organic Consumers article by Andrew Malone, "Thousands of Indian Farmers Committing Suicide after Using GE Crops".

Glory, Galena, IL

Anonymous

09/01/2009 - 11:15am

It is neither hysterical nor emotional to not want genetically engineered food, there is sufficient food if timely and correctly distributed, without 'dumping' to maintain quotas and prices. Some of these foods have been proven to be dangerous in various studies, most notably one done in Australia on the humble green pea using genetic material from a bean. The U.S.A. also dumped an enormous amount of powdered milk which would soon be going out of date instead of forwarding it to a 3rd world country whilst sending them genetically modified maize which they dumped as they are tired of being the 1st world's guinea pigs!

R. Dzierzba, Cork, Ei

Anonymous

09/01/2009 - 11:16am

We should definitely not mess with mother nature. It is not in our best interests!

A Baker, Montreal, QC

Anonymous

09/01/2009 - 11:17am

These crops are thoroughly tested? Where you getting your info? They were not properly tested before being released in to the US food supply. Do some research.

Anonymous

09/13/2009 - 10:09pm

GMOs can't be tested for safety. As we as human beings know, genetics can and will always change. Ban these from our country and clean up ASAP. We are getting unhealthier worldwide. Look back in history. Once poisons enter our body they can be carried on from parent to child. Would you feed your children a food today that would pass a genetic change onto their children. Don't count on the Monsanto run FDA to protect you. Speak up to your government elect, your grocery store, your neighbors, your school. Demand that they get GMOs out of your food. By the way GMOs don't feed the world, they enslave it. Worldwide we should reverse and ban the ability of ANY government to give another entity the ability to patent life. It is repugnant to the existence of life.

Anonymous

03/19/2010 - 3:50pm

"thouroughly tested," that's a riot! "shown to be safe," HA! you obviously don't know what "studies" were performed, or their outcomes! or who funded them! do you know how many of the rats DIED in the GM tomato tests?! because i DO! in our family, we do almost entirely organic, and we do not eat ANY GMO crops unless they are organic or certified non gmo. we do not eat meat that was fed GM feed. it angers me so much that monsanto is still masquerading behind "we're doing this to save the world!!" when it's so obviously all about money. it makes me vomit, i don't know how those people sleep at night.

Anonymous

04/14/2010 - 8:14pm

This article, like many written on the topic fails to present the benefits generated for consumers, farmers and the environment by GMO crops. Removing the emotive from what should be a fact-based debate, it should be noted that such technologies have increased crop yields and in many cases decreased input costs including that of scarce resources like water (for drought resistant varieties). The use of generalities suggesting GMO foods are unsafe is also suspect journalism at best - instead, provide specific examples of credible, peer-reviewed studies that show GMOs to be unsafe for human consumption. After all, with > 1 B acres planted globally, there is surely sufficient data available to support such a claim if indeed one can be supported. As a farmer, I can tell you the principal reason for the widespread adoption of GMOs in our agronomy is that they both improve farming crops and also require less inputs, as well as through the use of no-till agriculture promote top soil and organic matter preservation. I can also tell you that as someone who has a family that has farmed for generations on the same lands, we take environmental sustainability seriously. GMO crops have not to our knowledge posed a threat to human safety in the food chain, nor to the environment. In selectively pointing out the increase of round up (which in itself is a relatively simple compound with a short half life) you neglect to mention the decrease in other herbicides which were much more harmful (such as 245 T) and the decrease in insecticides, also a function of GMO crop management. There are good reasons why so many farmers have elected to use these technologies. Are they perfect? Of course not. But are they safe - yes, and I have yet to see concrete evidence to the contrary. I can understand the argument for alternatives such as organics, but these are not the solution for the bulk of food, energy or material requirements we have in agriculture. Perhaps you could point out that without the "Green Revolution" countries like India and China are unable to feed their growing populations, let alone achieve a semblance of food security. I dont have a problem with presenting your perspective on GMOs, but omitting key counterviews doesnt help fuel a rational or informed discussion.

Anonymous

04/21/2010 - 4:20pm

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