Texas Neighbors Summer 2016 : Page 16

TEXAS NEIGHBORS | SUMMER 2016 By Jessica Domel News Editor GMO: A genetically modified organism. Three little letters. Three average-sized words. One large discussion. Biotech seeds and foods, also referred to as GMOs, have been around for more than 20 years. Some people still question their use, safety and whether or not foods containing them should be labeled. GMO seeds are created by scientists who copy a trait, like drought or pest resistance, from one plant and use it in another. “About 80 percent of a grocery store has biotech ingredients,” Andrew Walmsley, director of Congressional Relations for the American Farm Bureau Federa-tion, said. Although a common miscon-ception online, animal DNA is not used in GMO plants. There are currently eight GMO plants available commercially to farmers: corn (both for cattle feed and human consumption), cotton, soybeans, papaya, alfalfa, squash, sugarbeets and canola. A biotech potato and apple are under review but are not yet on the market. “FDA (the Food and Drug Ad-ministration), along with USDA (the U.S. Department of Agricul-ture) and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), testified in a Senate Ag Committee last Oc-tober that, first off, all of these products they consider to be safe. They’re materialistically no different than their conventional counterparts,” Walmsley said. Foods that contain GMOs cur-rently carry no mandatory label explaining that biotech was used in the creation of the seed. But some groups are pushing to ensure all food processors and growers who sell goods across the U.S. use a label. Texas Farm Bureau, along with AFBF, support a voluntary, rather than a mandatory, GMO labeling system. “FDA only deems a label neces-sary if there’s a health, safety, nu-tritional or materialistic difference if a product with the same name is out there,” Walmsley said. “GMOs WWW.TEXASFARMBUREAU.ORG

GMOs: Digging Deeper

Jessica Domel

GMO: A genetically modified organism. Three little letters. Three average-sized words. One large discussion.

Biotech seeds and foods, also referred to as GMOs, have been around for more than 20 years. Some people still question their use, safety and whether or not foods containing them should be labeled.

GMO seeds are created by scientists who copy a trait, like drought or pest resistance, from one plant and use it in another.

“About 80 percent of a grocery store has biotech ingredients,” Andrew Walmsley, director of Congressional Relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation, said.

Although a common misconception online, animal DNA is not used in GMO plants.

There are currently eight GMO plants available commercially to farmers: corn (both for cattle feed and human consumption), cotton, soybeans, papaya, alfalfa, squash, sugarbeets and canola.

A biotech potato and apple are under review but are not yet on the market.

“FDA (the Food and Drug Administration), along with USDA (the U.S. Department of Agriculture) and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), testified in a Senate Ag Committee last October that, first off, all of these products they consider to be safe. They’re materialistically no different than their conventional counterparts,” Walmsley said.

Foods that contain GMOs currently carry no mandatory label explaining that biotech was used in the creation of the seed.

But some groups are pushing to ensure all food processors and growers who sell goods across the U.S. use a label.

Texas Farm Bureau, along with AFBF, support a voluntary, rather than a mandatory, GMO labeling system.

“FDA only deems a label necessary if there’s a health, safety, nutritional or materialistic difference if a product with the same name is out there,” Walmsley said. “GMOs don’t meet any of that.”

There is concern that a label on GMO products would turn some consumers away who haven’t read or don’t believe the hundreds of studies, including a recent one from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine confirming GMOs are safe.

“If a consumer today doesn’t want to eat GMO food, they don’t have to. There’s the organic program and there’s other voluntary programs,” Walmsley said.

A mandatory GMO labeling program could cost Americans up to an additional $1,000 per year on food, according to a study from the Corn Refiners Association.

GMOs, on the other hand, help keep food costs down. GMO crops designed to be drought and pest resistant require less water and pesticide in the growing process. That means farmers, in some cases, are able to grow more with less.

GMOs have also saved at least one food entirely. If it weren’t for genetic modification, papayas would likely no longer exist due to the papaya ringspot virus.

Farmers also have choices. They can use GMO seeds or opt for an organic program. Many do both.

“I think we sometimes lose sight. We’re pretty fortunate today that food is affordable enough, abundant enough that in a lot of cases, not all, there are consumers who are affluent enough to dictate how their food is grown,” Walmsley said.

For those consumers with questions on GMOs and how they’re used, a group of industry experts created GMOAnswers. com. There, consumers can read FAQs, ask questions and filter through the many studies and articles on the safety and use of GMOs.

Read the full article at http://texasneighbors.texasfarmbureau.org/article/GMOs%3A+Digging+Deeper/2512353/312976/article.html.

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