AgWatch


Surprising Facts About GMO Crops

DR. PAUL VINCELLI

LEXINGTON, KY.
   Many consumers understandably wonder about the safety of consuming genetically engineered food (commonly called GMOs). We all want safe food: for ourselves, our families, and our fellow citizens.  
   I cannot overemphasize the fact that there is nothing uniquely threatening about genetically engineered foods. This is the conclusion of major scientific societies throughout the world, including our own National Academy of Science, the Nation Science Academies of the EU-Member States, and many other prestigious scientific organizations. 
   Genetic engineering is nothing more than a set of highly diverse technologies for making genetic changes. What matters are the genetic changes themselves, not how they were made. A couple of surprising, but well-established, facts are:
   1. Genetic engineering can cause less genetic disruption to plants than older breeding techniques.
   2. All of our food and fiber crops are natural GMOs. They all have DNA from unrelated organisms, apparently put there by Nature. 
   No one pays me to speak favorably about genetic engineering. I simply see value in the wise use of genetic engineering to help address genuine human needs and environmental challenges.  Consider cell phone technology. Some uses of cell phones can be questioned, but most uses are beneficial. Some applications of genetic engineering can be questioned, but many, many beneficial ones sit in laboratories, unused, because of public concerns.
   If you choose not to eat genetically engineered food, I support your choice. But please don’t deny me that choice, as I see genetic engineering as a source of much potential benefit to humankind. ∆
   DR. PAUL VINCELLI: Extension Professor and Provost’s Distinguished Service Professor, University of Kentucky
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