BACK POCKET INFO ON GMO

Tricia Braid

Jun, 13, 2014  |  Today's News

The onslaught of bad information regarding biotechnology and GMOs never seems to slow down. Are you prepared to have a discussion with your friends and neighbors about why you choose to use biotechnology and GMOs on your farm? Take a look at this information. You might want to keep it in your ‘back pocket’ for the next time you get a question on this topic.

Illinois Farm Families (IFF) developed the following information. Illinois Corn Marketing Board invests Illinois corn checkoff dollars with the IFF to increase Illinois consumers trust and confidence in Illinois farmers and farming methodologies.

Consumer benefits of biotechnology

More affordable food

Increased productivity by farmers means more affordable food for consumers because of reduced production costs.

Not a new science

For roughly 10,000 years, our ancestors have been genetically altering plants and seeds to develop things like: cheese, bread, wine and beer, among others. GM rennet has been used for decades. The cheese-making enzyme breaks down milk proteins and separates them from the whey.

Healthier foods

A new GM soybean (Vistive Gold) can be used to create cooking oil with less “bad fat” - they contain zero trans fat (new traits eliminate the need for hydrogenation) and:

  • 85 percent less saturated fat than palm oil
  • 70 percent less saturated fat than fry shortening
  • 60 percent less saturated fat than traditional soybean oil

The new oil lasts longer and has the same (or better) taste and texture as traditional oils. The new soybeans are currently grown in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio – but are coming to Illinois in the next few years.

The new generation of GM crops—Golden Rice, is an example of how genetic engineering might benefit vitamin A-deficient children. Inserting vitamin-A precursor genes to “turn on” beta-carotene pigment (a source of vitamin A) synthesis in rice could enable this fortified dietary staple to counter a common nutrient-deficiency blindness in children. This blindness is especially common in Southeast Asia where rice is a staple.

Less environmental impact

By reducing tillage and tractor fuel use, GM seeds help avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 11.9 million cars off the road for a year.

Contribute to hunger reduction

Biotech crops contribute to the incomes of 16.5 million small, resource-poor farmers.

Sustainability

Biotech crops are a land saving technology and prevent deforestation and protect biodiversity.

Medical benefits

Most insulin used by diabetics today is made from GM cells. Before genetic engineering, diabetics injected insulin extracted from pig and cow pancreases. Some diabetics had allergic reactions to the insulin from animal pancreatic tissue. Through genetic engineering, the insulin gene from humans is inserted into bacteria. The bacteria act as miniature factories, pumping out an insulin protein identical to human insulin. This insulin is then purified and used for human medical purposes.

Other genetically engineered proteins include blood-clotting factors that hemophiliacs lack, the Hepatitis-B vaccine, thyroid hormones and many synthetically produced amino acids (used in nutritional supplements).