The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, agricultural groups at the national, regional and state levels (including Virginia Farm Bureau) that are answering Americans’ questions about agriculture, recently responded on their Web site, http://www.fooddialogues.com, to some concerns about GMOs and biotechnology. After Proposition 37 failed in California, this is a very timely discussion.
If you’re interested in learning more about USFRA and are a producer member attending the 2012 Virginia Farm Bureau Annual Convention in Chantilly, please contact your county Farm Bureau about attending the USFRA workshop on Tuesday, Nov. 27
Consumers have a number of questions concerning the use of biotechnology in crops. Combining science with food raises many concerns and questions and during the New York Food Dialogues, the USFRA panel discussion with tackle a number of these questions. As the event takes place, you may be challenged to provide some answers as well from your followers and consumer audience. Here’s some background on this topic from the USFRA overview of biotechnology:
USFRA supports farmers’ choices to plant and grow conventional crops, biotech crops, organic crops or a combination. Similarly, USFRA supports consumers’ choices to purchase foods they prefer. Many of our farmers plant biotech seeds for reasons such as protecting their crops from adverse weather. Some of our farmers choose organic production. All of these methods of production contribute to meeting consumer demands for food products as well as producing healthy choices for everyone and protecting the environment.
Farmers also use biotech seeds for a number of reasons – to reduce crop damage from weeds, diseases and insects as well as from adverse weather conditions such as drought or flooding. Biotech seeds often allow farmers to be more precise about their use of inputs like nutrients, pesticides and water needed to grow crops.
Safety and FDA Review
“FDA has no basis for concluding that bioengineered foods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way, or that, as a class, foods developed by the new techniques present any different or greater safety concern than foods developed by traditional plant breeding.”
Since 1995, food from biotech seeds has been commercially available and has been proven safe for human and animal consumption. No other crops have been more studied or subject to greater scientific review. Biotech seeds undergo testing for safety, health and nutritional value – and regulation is overseen by The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Research shows that the current commercial crops from biotech seeds have the same nutritional properties as non-biotech seed crops and are not harmful for humans and animals to consume. In the years that farmers have grown crops from biotech seeds (since 1995), there has not been a single instance of harm to human health.
For roughly 10,000 years, farmers have been genetically altering plants and seeds through selective breeding to improve characteristics such as hardiness, yield, taste and nutrition. Today’s biotech seeds are part of this evolution – their development is sped up and more precise by inserting the genes from one plant into another in a laboratory setting.
For more information on USFRA’s view on biotechnology, visit http://www.fooddialogues.com/foodsource/topics/biotech-seeds