The Non-GMO Story
It is widely debated who and when GMOs or “Genetically Modified Organisms” were first developed. GMOs cannot naturally occur in nature like traditional breeding of seeds and animals where pollen from one plant passes to another by wind or insect or hand, or by cross-breeding of animals to improve the quality of meat or milk.
What Are GMOs?
GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are genetically engineered by introducing cloned DNA into other plants or animals in the laboratory. The new genetically engineered plant or animal is then introduced into the food chain.
There are functional and “cultural” categories of GMOs. The “cultural” category has been around for years and offers pesticide or pest resistance. The Round-Up Ready™ soy bean is the poster plant for this category. The benefit of the producer of such “cultural” traits is convenience.
The functional category of GMOs changes the process characteristics of the crop. The poster child for “functional” traits could be amylase corn which carries its own enzyme that eats starch and starts converting it into ethanol.
GMO plants can withstand direct herbicide applications eliminating weeds from fields or can produce their own insecticides to kill insects trying to eat the plant or seed from the plant. Are the GMO traits that kill pests safe for children or humans when they consume sweet corn, tomatoes, or french fries as example?
The biotech industry claims that it is safe; that it reduces the amount of chemicals applied to the land and that it is necessary to feed the growing world population. Applications for GMOs are endless.
The Non-GMO Movement
The non-GMO movement began in the mid-1990’s when scientists developed means to identify GMO DNA and to quantify the amount present in the seeds, plants, and animal tissue. Some consumers and activists challenged the safety and sanity of GMO foods calling them “Frankenfoods.” Public concern has led over 60 countries to ban or restrict the marketing of GMOs. Such concerns present opportunities to farmers and companies with the ability to segregate and market non-GMO crops — even in countries approving the unrestricted use of GMOs.
The broad non-GMO movement continues to grow, even in the U.S. where there are extensive and controversial efforts underway to label foods containing GMOs, to give consumers a label that supports the right to know and purchase foods made without GMOs.