Talk about a strange turn of events, which seem to be a common occurrence in the reign of President Obama, suddenly the tables have turned and
seems to be the only nation
in the world actually beating down the advocates and profiteers of genetically
engineered food. China
I wrote a series of articles on the GMO controversy and confusion, and they are accessible through the links at the end of this introduction. However, it might be useful that we all share the same understanding of the issue so there can be no distortion of the basics.
There are two sides to the GMO battle, very rich corporate producers, and very poor people all over the world. In between lay a battlefield of the governmental agencies at the international, national, federal, state and who knows, all trying to regulate and generate money from the big boys and protect the health and safety of the people they purportedly represent.
Circling the regulators in the middle are the piranha, the lobbyists, bankers, environmentalists, anti-environmentalists, lawyers, accountants, a bunch of businesses making a lot of money and creating many jobs in the business of food. Remember, billions of dollars a year are involved in this playground.
Therefore, we start by defining the issue. Here is my explanation to help me understand the meaning behind the alphabet soup of key issues. Two competing interests are at the producer level where all the money lies, and the battle is over what they stand for in the industry.
Within the producer, is the Natural Breeding segment, versus the Genetically Modified segment.
Natural breeding is quite ancient, and practiced for thousands of years as Druids, ancient Chinese, indigenous peoples, kings, emperors, and presidents would use designer breeding methods to modify the seeds. They might cross their plants through pollination or crossbreed them for multiple generations. It was the only game in town.
Then the scientists began using a genetic insertion, according to Biology Online it means
"(Science: genetics) a rare nonreciprocal translocation involving three breaks in which a segment is removed from one chromosome and then inserted into a broken region of a nonhomologous chromosome."
Are you kidding me?
How about this definition from the Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary, "a: a section of genetic material inserted into an existing gene sequence, b: the mutational process producing a genetic insertion."
Now that really explains it. No wonder the general population is clueless about the news stories when such scientific, technical, and biological terms get bandied about in the latest breaking news.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, just what is the definition of Genetic Engineering?
"Genetic engineering is a set of technologies used to change the genetic makeup of cells, including the transfer of genes within and across species boundaries to produce improved or novel organisms. The techniques involve sophisticated manipulations of genetic material and other biologically important chemicals.
Genes are the chemical blueprints that determine an organism's traits. Moving genes from one organism to another transfers those traits. Through genetic engineering, organisms can be given targeted combinations of new genes—and therefore new combinations of traits—that do not occur in nature and, indeed, cannot be developed by natural means.
Such an approach is different from classical plant and animal breeding, which operates through selection across many generations for traits of interest. Classical breeding operates on traits, only indirectly selecting genes, whereas biotechnology targets genes, attempting to influence traits. The potential of biotechnology is to rapidly accelerate the rate of progress and efficiency of breeding."
Maybe we should say Playing God by combining things that are different and alien to each other in hopes of creating a more superior specimen. I do not know about you but when it comes to manipulating the genetic structure of DNA and cells, whether in plants, animals, or humans, I get very nervous.
The field of genetic engineering is relatively new, in fact it came into use in 1996, just nineteen years ago, when our government approved the use by farmers. Seems from a science standpoint it is still in the infancy stage since exposure is recent and it seems like something that new should undergo testing for longer than nineteen years to assess the side effects.
Quite the contrary, as our government went so far as to shield, protect, or whatever you may want to call the unfair business practices in which the government gave GMO producers immunity from liability for injuries or deaths caused by side effects or even prescribed use of their G
As a result, use of the experimental GMO technology went from nothing in 1996 to over 90% in 2014 for several major food categories including the largest selling, corn, soybeans, and others. To be precise, 94% of all corn products used as human food and for animal food came from GMO seeds. At the same time, the food for 95% of the food-producing animals in
is GMO. America
The following are three recent news stories about the GMO situation, the role
is now playing, and the extent
of worldwide GMO use in spite of the opposition. First, here are the links to my previous
series on GMO. China
GMO Part 1. -
Health - Obama's Achilles Heel! America
GMO Part 2. - Myths and Truths
GMO Part 3. - The Higher Purpose of Genetic Engineering
GMO Part 4. Does the
Feed the World? USA
http://coltonspointtimes.blogspot.com/2013/08/gmo-part-4-does-usa-feed-world.htmlMO, once it was approved by the FDA (the federal government).
GMO Part 5 - The End Game - Now What?
's GMO corn ban protecting
consumers or protecting markets? China
For 42 years, Don Villwock has grown soybeans and corn on 4,000 acres in southwest
Villwock explains that, as a major market evaporated, prices tumbled, and farms across the
Genetically modified foods have long been controversial. Opponents argue that these crops damage the environment, contribute to corporate control of food systems, and have not been proven safe for human consumption. Supporters counter that genetically engineered crops require less pesticide use and could be a key part of confronting rising food demand worldwide.
Ripples from a closed marketThe trait
Veronica Nigh, an economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), says that, in recent years,
“When your number one customer starts rejecting [your crop], the price drops quickly,” Nigh says.
In response, the US Grains Council asked Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to pressure
Syngenta did not respond to requests for comment, but has rejected responsibility on its website. David Morgan, president of Syngenta Seeds, has asserted that halting marketing of certain seeds at this point would be tantamount to giving a foreign nation control over US agricultural practices.
At the moment, biotech companies are standing by the power of GMOs. Villwock says, however, that some farmers are considering a return to conventional seed next year rather than risk growing crops that prove unsellable.
An economic power play?
AFBF’s Nigh suggests that
“Long-term, our concern is that it slows down the abilities of US farmers to adopt the newest and best technology available to them,” she says.
Monsanto, a major seed producer that is not currently having trouble with
“They can breed faster, they can breed more precisely, they can map and tag breeding traits – but it’s not a GMO,” Fraley says.
These techniques have already produced an antioxidant-boosting broccoli that is just coming to market, Fraley says, noting that other varieties that offer enhanced nutrition, better flavor, and other desirable traits are also in development.
There are also promising alternatives to genetically modified crops, says Bill Freese, a science policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety. Farming practices known as ecological agriculture – including crop rotation and the planting of cover crops – can help keep weeds at bay, making it unnecessary to plant herbicide-resistant GMO seeds. Moreover, he explains, conventional breeding programs have produced the kinds of drought-tolerant and enhanced-nutrition strains promised by genetic engineering. However, none of these new varieties have yet been able to gain traction in the market because the breeders, many of whom are publicly funded, don’t have the money or clout to compete with GMO producers, he says.
Even with the challenges they’re facing, GMOs are likely to stick around. Genetically modified crops make up nearly 90% of the corn grown in the
Many farmers are planning to stick with their GMO seeds. When prices are low, Villwock says, it just makes sense to use the seeds with the highest yields. And, in his experience, those are genetically modified crops. “There’s no doubt the economics lean towards planting a GMO crop,” Villwock says. “We will stay planting GMOs on our farm.”
Sarah Shemkus is a freelance reporter and editor who writes about business, technology, food and the places where they all meet. Find her on Twitter at@shemkus.
The technology and innovation hub is funded by BT. All content is editorially independent except for pieces labelled “brought to you by”. Find out more here.
Zhou, the owner of a recycling business in the northeast coastal city of Weihai, said one source of her concern was an anonymous article shared online by her friends that alleges genetically modified crops cause infertility in Asians, part of a U.S. ploy against China. She fears her 21-year-old son won’t have his own family if she feeds him the corn-meal porridge.
“I definitely won’t let my son eat it,” Zhou said by telephone. “It’s not just me. All our friends are worried. All the corn grown now is genetically modified.”
Meat consumption has surged in
‘Controversial Views’“There has been a lot of opposition against GMO in
Because the technology is new, “it’s reasonable that society should hold controversial views and doubts,” Xi told the Communist Party conference on rural works last December, the Beijing Evening News reported on Sept. 28.
‘Very Big Problem’The concern among some Chinese consumers about genetically modified grains dovetails with broader worries about food safety. Fears have been fanned by high-profile incidents, including rice found with cancer-causing heavy metals; rat, fox and mink sold as mutton; cooking oil salvaged from sewers; and baby formula laced with chemicals. About 41 percent of Chinese consumers in a 2012
The state-led campaign to promote GMOs comes at a time when meat has become a popular choice at meals, requiring more corn, wheat and soybeans to feed livestock.
In December, the country announced a new food-security strategy that will allow “moderate” grain imports for feed, while maintaining self-sufficiency in wheat and rice, a break from previous policies to ensure the nation grows 95 percent of the corn, wheat and rice it needs, according to an April report by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
More MeatPer-capita demand for corn more than doubled in the past two decades, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. Beef consumption in China, which the USDA estimates already raises and eats half the world’s pork, could surge by more than 70 percent from 2013 to 2030, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. said Sept. 5.
The country imported 63 million metric tons of soybeans last year valued at $38 billion, accounting for more than 60 percent of global exports, customs data show. It also shipped in 3.3 million tons of corn, according to the data. Soybean purchases will climb to 96.9 million tons by about 2020, with corn reaching 16 million tons, according to a long-term projection made by the USDA in February.