Genetically modified crops is a very highly opinionated topic for almost all consumers and producers. Some people are strongly pulled in either direction, with very few who fall in the middle as far as anti-GM or in support of GM crops. While some of these consumers are educated on what a GMO actually is and what crops are actually genetically modified, others are not educated and can easily fall victim to false information and advertising tricks.
There are in fact only 10 genetically modified crops grown and they are: cotton, soybeans, corn, squash, papaya, alfalfa, sugar beets, canola, potatoes, and apples. An uneducated consumer would probably disagree with the previous statement, but there are actually only 10 genetically modified crops. So when a customer goes into a grocery store and buys GMO free bananas, GMO free bread, and GMO free rice, although it is free of genetic modification, there was never a chance for it to be genetically modified because GM bananas, wheat, and rice are not a thing. This concept is heavily used for marketing tactics for many products. The misconception and lack of education on what is actually genetically modified and what is not, will continue to be the basis of many problems in the food & fiber industry.
When you think of the Monsanto, an American multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation, what is the first thing you think of? Many people think of the documentary Food Inc. where Monsanto is portrayed as thugs of the agricultural industry. The problem is this is where people stopped doing their research. Most people don’t consider Monsanto’s point of view. This is why I think having Dave Mayonado as a guest lecturer was so important! We got to hear Monsanto’s side straight from the company. Mr. Mayonado gave a history about Monsanto and how they became the agricultural giant they are today. He then went on to talk about Genetically Modified Organisms and new techniques like RNAi technology which allows gene silencing. Gene silencing presents the possibility of turning off specific genes, which might have many practical agricultural applications. The most exciting part about this new technology is how it can be presented to consumers. This technology doesn’t involve inserting new genes into a different plant which is a scary thought for consumers. Throughout his presentation Mr. Mayonado made it a point that GM crops are the most thoroughly studied foods in the world and that their safety has been consistently demonstrated. Seeing both sides for every argument is always important so you can form your own opinion on the matter. I felt as though this lecture was one of the most beneficial because it allowed us as students to grasp more information and so as we go out into the world we can educate others.
A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. Currently commercialized GM crops in the U.S. include soy, cotton, canola, sugar beets, corn etc… One of the biggest controversies in the food world today is determining whether food products containing genetically modified ingredients should be labeled so. The argument for labeling comes down to the right to know: Consumers should be well informed of what’s in their food.
One of the cons of labeling food products that contain genetically modified ingredients is that the majority of consumers have no idea what GMO means or they see other products that are labeled Non-GMO so they think if a product is genetically modified it must be some terrible thing. Therefore, food manufacturers hesitate to label their products in fear that sales will go down. There needs to be outreach and educational programs for consumers to learn more about GMOs. This is tricky for food producers to do because consumers might not believe information that is coming directly from them.
Another reason food producers advocate for keeping GMO labels off food products is how expensive it would be for them to change their labels for maybe one or two states that require it. Also, adding genetically modified to a label suggests that the food might cause health problems. This is exactly what anti-GMO and organic food marketers want consumers to think. Labeling food products genetically modified will be more expensive for the company and if consumers don’t know what GMO means it provides no useful information to them
All the disadvantages aside, consumers should be well informed of what’s in their food. I firmly believe that food producers need to be open and honest about what they are putting in their food, it’s the first step in creating trust between them and the consumer. However, I do understand their hesitation, with so many consumers being uneducated it wouldn’t be a smart move, financially. Labeling genetically modified products might be what food producers need to show consumers that they want to create a stronger relationship by being transparent with the public knowing that it might affect their sales negatively.
As a pre-veterinary student I felt as though I knew all there was to know about the amazing research farm we have here on campus. Every semester so far I have had a few classes down on South campus and if I wasn’t directly on the farm for class, I got to smell it! Even though I had seen the dairy farm, Webb farm and the poultry houses prior to this field trip I learned so much about what goes on at each of these facilities. Scott Hopkins, University of Delaware’s farm superintendent, took us around and went in depth about experiments both successes and failures, different classes that are offered on the farm to target non-agriculture students, new technology that’s been included in each facility to help advance research, management practices and so much more! Even though it’s a close runner-up playing with the calves wasn’t my favorite part of this field trip. Scott Hopkins shared a ton of information with us about the research farm and I took a lot away from it that I can’t wait to share with others but if there was one thing overall that I took away from this trip is, there is always more to learn! I went into this field trip thinking I was going to know everything he talked about and I was pleasantly surprised. I found myself amazed with all of the new things I learned about the farm after the field trip was over!
“We need to produce more food not just to keep up with population but because poverty is gradually being eradicated, along with the widespread malnutrition, that still today means close to 800 million people go to bed hungry each night.” Mark Lynas’ talk was packed full of facts and knowledge about Genetically Modified Organisms are beneficial to us. Out of all the things he said, this statement resonated with me the most. The issue of world hunger has always been the reason I’m for the use of Genetically Modified Organisms in production. It amazed me that so many countries like Africa and India, who are overpopulated, had a different opinion. Why wouldn’t you want to use a technique that could bring us closer to solving world hunger? I don’t think it’s because they don’t care about those in food deserts. The lack of education is the real problem.
Mark Lynas is the perfect example. After doing a lot of research into GMOs he changed his viewpoint from defaming GMOs to being a gigantic proponent for them and the positive changes they can bring to our world. If we could find ways to bring that education to those countries and even to those in our country, I think we would find a lot of people changing their views. After watching this video, I asked my roommate what her opinion was on GMOs, she said “I don’t know that much about them but aren’t they bad? Doesn’t that mean they’re putting chemicals on our food?” This just shows the impact our media and society has on the uneducated. She knows nothing about Genetically Modified Organisms but because of the labeling she sees on groceries or commercials she sees on TV she just assumed they were bad. I wish everyone was required to watch Mark Lynas’ speech, even if they don’t agree with him by the end at least they have had a chance to see both sides and form their own opinion. Lynas’ speech was passionate and intrigued my interest in being a part of educating others in hopes that one day we can lower the number of those going to bed hungry each night.