The Final Chapter of the GMO Argument?

GMOs have been in the news lately, and for once, it’s been positive press.

For nearly twenty years, genetically modified organisms have attracted negative attention brought on by poorly informed non-experts with access to the masses. Ah, the power of modern day social media.

But as of late, a series of articles have supported the benefits, safety and value of genetically modified organisms. It is thought that this public breakthrough could finally put to bed the argument of the safety of GMOs to human health. Additionally, a well-known, brilliant billionaire has weighed in, giving GMOs a boost in the right direction in public eye.

The Breakthrough:

A recent meta-analyses, which sorted through hundreds or thousands of studies (how would you like to have that job?) to separate the fact from the noise and draw surer conclusions from scientific data, compared GMO corn with conventional varieties.

The analysis of over 6,000 peer-reviewed studies covering 21 years of data found that GMO corn increased yields up to 25 percent and dramatically decreased dangerous food contaminants. The study analyzed field data from 1996, when the first GMO corn was planted, through 2016 in the United States, Europe, South America, Asia, Africa and Australia.

41598_2018_21284_Fig1_HTML

Key findings:

  • GMO corn varieties increased crop yields 5.6 to 24.5 percent relative to their non-GMO equivalents
  • GMO corn crops had lower percentages of mycotoxins (-28.8 percent), which can lead to economic losses and harm human and animal health. What exactly are mycotoxins?:
    • Mycotoxins, chemicals produced by fungi, are both toxic and carcinogenic to humans and animals. A significant percentage of non-GM and organic corn contain small amounts of mycotoxins. These chemicals are often removed by cleaning in developing countries, but the risk still exists.Genetically modified  corn has substantially fewer mycotoxins because the plants are modified to experience less crop damage from insects. Insects weaken a plant’s immune system and make it more susceptible to developing the fungi that produce mycotoxins.
  • The study also reaffirmed the scientific consensus that genetically modified corn does not pose risks to human health.

Let’s review that last point again:

advice 2016

For years the misinformed have argued that GMOs in the U.S. and Canada haven’t increased crop yields and could threaten human health; this meta analysis proved just the opposite.

 

The Billionaire

Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates recently participated in an “Ask Me Anything” online forum and remarked that not only does he view genetically modified foods as “perfectly healthy,” but that he sees them as a promising tool in a wider array of resources in the fight to reduce world hunger.

advice 2016

“GMO foods are perfectly healthy and the technique has the possibility to reduce starvation and malnutrition when it is reviewed in the right way,” Gates wrote. “I don’t stay away from non-GMO foods but it is disappointing that people view it as better.”

gatesHis strong and public opinion of GMOs is getting press because it seems to be the opposite of others’ who aren’t necessarily educated on the topic, but are quite passionate (and maybe vocal?) about it. It appears that for once, someone with a mighty microphone did their homework and has made a personal decision for the benefit of progress and health.

When speaking of the argument regarding the safety and value of GMOs?
As far as we’re concerned, the book is closed.

book-549126_960_720

 

Information came from these sources:

After Two Decades of GMOs, Scientists Find They Live up to Their Promise

Bill Gates calls GMOs ‘perfectly healthy’ — and scientists say he’s right

Does GMO corn increase crop yields? 21 years of data confirm it does—and provides substantial health benefits

 

HL_logo_Vert_4C

 

A Lesson From The Baby Carrot

Ah, social media.

Where people have so much to say, and so little understanding.

Social media is the not-so-new wave of information sharing, where it seems everyone is an expert and their information source is about as reliable and consistent as weather in Ohio throughout the month of March.

Social media is exciting and terrifying all at the same time, a lot like the first time you go to Disney World. You often find yourself sorting through the fodder, wondering what is real? What is created based off imagination? Why is everyone trying to look like a duck?

Wait. Before I go any further:
Have you liked Harvest Land Co-op’s Facebook page yet? If not, what are you waiting on?

I saw a Facebook post the other day that made me shake my head and pray for patience. It came from a person who appears to be an avid health and fitness junkie and as well as a personal promoter of organic foods. They regularly and proudly post photos of the meals they prepare for their family (a lot of forage) and videos of their workouts (no square bales of hay were involved).

On this particular day they were outraged to learn that baby carrots, the small, manageable carrots that have replaced washing/peeling/slicing of years gone by, were a product of genetic modification.

baby carrots.png

Travesty!

A wolf in sheep’s clothing!

Poison in the lunch box for years!

With this groundbreaking (incorrect) discovery, the mother wrote about her plans to no longer serve her three children (ages 8 – 19 years) these toxic tiny roots. Yes, complete restriction of baby carrots was in order. She shared her sudden findings with hundreds of immediately outraged friends.

You can imagine what was going through my head after reading this; probably much of what is going through yours right now. This is a perfect example of how poorly informed consumers are when it comes to GMOs and how terrified they are of something they know so little about.

70_72.jpg

Had the gal done her research, she probably would have found three things:

  1. Baby carrots aren’t a GMO product. Corn, soybeans, alfalfa, cotton and sugar beets are the only GMO foods.
  2. Baby carrots are actually a product of conservation management and creative thinking. In 1986 Mike Yurosek began using a green bean cutter to cut misfit carrots  into two-inch pieces and then peeled them with an industrial potato peeler to create the perfect sized carrot. This eliminated waste by utilizing misshaped or small carrots that would usually be tossed.
  3. Their perfect cut and shape are a product of work done post-harvest.

This family, along with millions of others, have been consuming these carrots – modified to serve a consumer base that doesn’t have time to wash/peel/slice carrots for the Super Bowl party – for years without concern. No one has fallen ill from these carrots. Ever. They’re a perfectly healthy addition to any diet. That has been proven by decades of kids rolling their eyes as they open their lunch box to find a bag of baby carrots awaiting them. What harms the American public is lack of understanding.

When I was little, the only way my parents could calm my fear of things that crept around our (these were the days when kids shared bedrooms with siblings) bedroom in the dark was to turn on the lights. They had to bring light to the area and prove that my fear was not warranted. We have to continue to do this today with consumers. Every day, at every opportunity.

So what can we learn from baby carrots?

  • Even after performing their own self-deployed study (feeding baby carrots to their family and self for years), consumers can still choose fear over fact.
  • Ignorance is often louder than reason, especially if they have a Facebook page.
  • Our journey of informing the public about GMO foods is far from over.
Join Harvest Land in continuing to
fight the good and worthy fight
regarding safe food production,
one baby carrot at a time.

baby-carrots.jpg