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Life is too short to eat bad food! Sharing great recipes, farm life, stories and photography from our Northern California dairy farm.

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March 3, 2011

GMO Food vs. Organic Food

All this talk about GMO’s, I’m still trying to understand the entire picture. Are you?

In a short version, this is what I’ve come to understand:

GMO; Genetically Modified Organism, is an organism whose been altered using genetic engineering techniques. So, basically changing the DNA of an organism.

Small scale experimental plantings of GM plants began in Canada and the U.S. in the late 1980s. The first approvals for large scale, cultivations came in the mid 1990s. Since then, the adoption of GM plants by farmers has increased annually.

Probably the most controversial but also the most widely used application of GMO technology is patent-protected food crops largely owned by Monsanto, which are resistant to commercial herbicides or are able to produce pesticidal proteins from within the plant, in turn growing a stronger, larger crop.

Photo by Google Image

My understanding of why Organic Farmers might be against GMOs, I think is, organic farmers are not allowed to use GMO seed but most conventional corn in the U.S. is genetically modified and probably one of the easiest crops for cross pollination to occur, its genes can travel into organic fields via wind blown pollen that could land on the tassels of organic corn. Possible and probable cross pollination occuring.

If this happens on a large scale, the organic farmer may be worried  the consumer will stop buying organic produce and/or organic meat, and buy conventional instead.
According to Pamela Ronald, a plant biologist at UC Davis says, those consumers are losing track of what’s most important. Pamela Ronald works with genetically engineered plants in the laboratory, and she's married to a longtime organic farmer. She and her husband together wrote the book "Tomorrow's Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food".

"What really is important is, can we reduce the use of insecticides? Can we foster soil fertility? Can we feed the poor and malnourished?" she says. Those should be the goals of organic farming, she says, and they should be the goals of non-organic farming, too. According to Ronald, they're much more significant than avoiding laboratory-spliced genes.

To read more about GMOs and to view Pamela Ronald’s quote, go to the article, “How to Define ‘Organic’ Food.

So GMOs are plants that are stronger, more resistant to things. Is that a bad thing? Will GMO crops help to reduce world starvation?

Do you consider eating non-GMO food as something important to you?

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