Genetically Modified Organisms
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are plants or animals that have had their DNA altered by a process known as genetic engineering. As of 2012, most GMOs fall within two major categories: Bt Crops, which produce their own insecticide, and Herbicide Tolerant Crops, which can survive spraying of a specific herbicide, such as glyphosate. GMOs are highly controversial and their production is banned in some countries. For more information on where GMOs are legal, see the article on GMO Policies by Country.
Genetically Engineered Crops
Types of Genetically Engineered Crops
The USDA has deregulated (legalized) over 100 genetically engineered plants since 1992. Most of these crops fall into one of several categories:
- Herbicide Tolerant Crops (i.e. Roundup Ready and Liberty Link crops)
- Bt Crops
- "Terminator Seeds" (Male Sterile Crops)
- Virus Resistant Crops
- Biofortified Crops
GMOs that do not fall into the above categories are listed below. Each item includes the manufacturer, crop, genetically engineered trait, date of deregulation, and the unique event or line that identifies the specific variety.
Fruit Ripening Altered Tomato:
- Calgene: Flavr Savr Tomato
- DNA Plant Tech: Fruit ripening altered tomato, Event 1345-4, January 24, 1995
- Monsanto: Fruit ripening altered tomato
- Agritope: Fruit ripening altered tomato, 35 1 N
Crops With Other Traits:
- Calgene: Oil Profile Altered Rapeseed
- Zeneca & Petoseed: Fruit Polygalacturonase Level Decreased Tomato
- Bejo, Male Sterile Cichorium Intybus, RM3-3, RM3-4, RM3-6
- Vector: Reduced Nicotine Tobacco, Vector 21-41
- Monsanto: High Lysine Corn, February 3, 2006, LY038
- Syngenta: Thermostable Alpha-Amylase Corn, February 15, 2011, 3272
- Florigene: Altered Flower Color Rose, September 29, 2011, IFD-524Ø1-4 and IFD-529Ø1-9
- Monsanto: Drought Tolerant Corn, May 11, 2011, MON 87460
GMOs Impact on Pesticide Use
One argument used in favor of GMOs is that they reduce pesticide use. However, this claim is controversial. A 2009 study by Charles Benbrook found that:
- "GE crops have been responsible for an increase of 383 million pounds of herbicide use in the U.S. over the first 13 years of commercial use of GE crops (1996-2008). This dramatic increase in the volume of herbicides applied swamps the decrease in insecticide use attributable to GE corn and cotton, making the overall chemical footprint of today’s GE crops decidedly negative."
- "GE crops have increased overall pesticide use by 318.4 million pounds over the first 13 years of commercial use, compared to the amount of pesticide likely to have been applied in the absence of HT [herbicide tolerant] and Bt seeds. GE crops reduced overall pesticide use in the first three years of commercial introduction (1996-1998) by 1.2%, 2.3%, and 2.3% per year, but increased pesticide use by 20% in 2007 and by 27% in 2008. Two major factors are driving the trend toward larger margins of difference in the pounds of herbicides used to control weeds on an acre planted to HT seeds, in comparison to conventional seeds:
Rise in Glyphosate Resistant Weeds
With the nearly ubiquitous use of glyphosate herbicide on such a large percent of corn, soybean, and cotton grown in the U.S. and in several other countries around the world, many weeds have evolved resistance to glyphosate. For more information, see the article on Glyphosate Resistant Weeds.
Genetically Engineered Animals
To date, no genetically engineered animals have been produced commercially. GE animals that have been created include:
- AquAdvantage Salmon
- Cows that produce human breast milk
- GE mosquitoes intended to prevent malaria
Articles and resources
Related SourceWatch articles
- Bayer CropScience
- Pioneer Hi-Bred
- Bt Crops
- Herbicide Tolerant Crops
- Glyphosate Resistant Weeds
- Roundup Ready Crops
- GMO Policies by Country
- Using Hunger to Promote Genetic Engineering
- ↑ Determinations of Non-Regulated Status, USDA, Accessed August 9, 2012.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Charles Benbrook, "Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use: The First Thirteen Years" and Supplemental Tables, The Organic Center, 2009.
- GM Crop Database, Center for Environmental Risk Assessment
- Overview of GMO Events Commercially Available and Regulatory Status
- Novel Food Decisions - Approved Products, Health Canada.
- Charles Benbrook, "Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use: The First Thirteen Years" and Supplemental Tables, The Organic Center, 2009.
- "Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops," Union of Concerned Scientists, 2009.
- The Safe Seed Sourcebook, Gene Watch
- Native Seeds/Search
- Test for GMOs in crops
- Detecting herbicide resistance, Plant Protection
- More Resources, Non-GMO Report
- Millions Against Monsanto, Organic Consumers Association
- Genetic Roulette The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods
- Living with the Fluid Genome
- BEYOND BIOTECHNOLOGY The Barren Promise of Genetic Engineering
- Redesigning Life? : The Worldwide Challenge to Genetic Engineering
- Engineering the Farm: The Social and Ethical Aspects of Agricultural Biotechnology
- Video: Prince Charles of Wales delivering the Sir Albert Howard Memorial Lecture
- Video: Heartbreak in the Heartland
- Video: GRAINS OF TRUTH
- Geoff Tansey and Tasmin Rajotte, eds, The Future Control of Food: An Essential Guide to International Negotiations and Rules on Intellectual Property, Biodiversity and Food Security, Routledge, 2008.
- Jeffrey M. Smith, Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating, Yes Books, September 2003.
- Andrew Rowell, Don't Worry (It's Safe to Eat): The True Story of GM Food, BSE and Foot and Mouth, Routledge, June 1, 2003.
- Kathleen Hart, Eating in the Dark: America's Experiment with Genetically Engineered Food, Pantheon, May 7, 2002.
- Andrew Kimbrell, Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture, Foundation for Deep Ecology, May 1, 2002.
- Kimberly A. Wilson and Martin Teitel (foreword by Ralph Nader), Genetically Engineered Food: Changing the Nature of Nature, Park Street Press, 2nd edition, April 1, 2001.
- Jeremy Rifkin, The Biotech Century: Harnessing the Gene and Remaking the World, Tarcher; ARC edition, March 23, 1998.
- "Consumers willing to pay premium for healthier genetically modified foods: ISU study," September 14, 2011.
- Andy Bloxham, Toxic pesticides from GM food crops found in unborn babies, The Telegraph, May 20, 2011.
- Is there more to the story on GMOs?, Howard Vlieger, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance.
- Doug Gurian-Sherman, "No seeds, no independent research," Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2011.
- Warren E. Leary, "Gene Inserted in Crop Plant Is Shown to Spread to Wild," The New York Times, March 7, 1996.