One of the hot topics in the world of farming is GMO. While many people know the three letters, few know what they stand for and just what they entail. GMO stands for a genetically modified organism, which are used to create genetically engineer foods. While this sounds like something out of science fiction, it is something that is important to the livelihood of farmers throughout the country.
It often has a bad reputation, as people are uncomfortable consuming things that are not in their natural state, but what many people don’t realize is that there are many benefits to genetic modification, and it is generally a safe product to help farmers produce their crops. Introduced in 1994, the concept is fairly new in the world of agriculture, which has been around for thousands of years.
What are some of the benefits of genetic modification?
Disease and pest resistant: Some crops are modified to allow them to be resistant to disease or pests. This isn’t always a blanket statement for all disease or all pests, but if there is a particular threat it can be targeted. Having a piece of produce be pest resistant means farmers can use fewer harmful pesticides.
Heartier Crops: Certain foods can be genetically modified to thrive in places where they might not normally grow or survive. They can also be modified to be bigger, healthier or more bountiful.
Drought resistance: One thing farmers have little control over is the weather, and growing crops that are resistant to drought ensure a bountiful crop even when Mother Nature is working against them.
How does this benefit farmers?
Ultimately, all of these benefits result in lower food production costs. Genetic modified crops are less of a risk than non modified crops because they are usually a fairly sure bet. Farmers don’t have to worry as much about drought or pests, and they don’t have to worry about losing their crop to disease.
All of these things take away a lot of the risk that farmers experienced in the past. Some of the biggest threats to crops can be eliminated, all while costing farmers less in order to tend to because of the fewer products needed to maintain the crops.
Some crops are even modified to grow faster, bigger, or in less space which all serve as benefits to farmers. This also means that the farmers can sell their products at a reasonable cost which means they can sell more and produce in mass to meet demand.
On which foods is genetic modification most common?
Most products that are genetically modified are considered cash crops for farmers as their consumption and use in the country is most prevalent. These are most often modified to resist disease and pests. There are some of the crops that are best served by genetic engineering.
Canola: Canola oil is derived from rapeseed and is a healthy plant oil that is commonly used in cooking, making it a huge cash crop across the country.
Corn: Used for countless purposes, from making grain for livestock, to flour, oil and even fresh off the cob, corn is one of the biggest crops produced in the US.
Soybeans: Soybeans are an important part of many food products in the US, as it is healthy and high in protein.
Is this different than crossbreeding?
Cross breeding takes two existing organisms and breeds them together to create an organism with unique traits that are desirable. These changes can occur naturally. Genetic engineering means humans altering the DNA in a way that cannot occur naturally.