From Corgis to Corn: A Brief Look at the Long History of GMO Technology - Science in the News (2023)

by Gabriel Rangel
figures by Anna Maurer

Summary: To date, scientists have engineered bacteria that produce medication-grade drugs, crops with built-in pesticides, and beagles that glow in the dark. While these are all relatively recent advances in scientific technology, humans have been altering the genetics of organisms for over 30,000 years. How did the original practice of selective breeding evolve into the concept of genetically modified organisms, as we know it today? Innovators, motivated by some of the world’s most critical problems, have paved the way for GMOs — a path that leads to an unimaginable array of benefits, but also raises extremely important questions.

The concept of “genetically modified organisms,” or GMOs, has received a large amount of attention in recent years. Indeed, the relative number of Google searches for “GMO” has more than tripled since late 2012 [1]. However, humans have been genetically modifying organisms for over 30,000 years [2]! Clearly, our ancestors had no scientific laboratories capable of directly manipulating DNA that long ago, so how did they do it, and how have GMOs become such a popular topic?

Ancient Genetic Modification

While our ancestors had no concept of genetics, they were still able to influence the DNA of other organisms by a process called “selective breeding” or “artificial selection.” These terms, coined by Charles Darwin, describe the process of choosing the organisms with the most desired traits and mating them with the intention of combining and propagating these traits through their offspring. Repeated use of this practice over many generations can result in dramatic genetic changes to a species. While artificial selection is not what we typically consider GMO technology today, it is still the precursor to the modern processes and the earliest example of our species influencing genetics.

The dog is thought to be the first organism our ancestors artificially selected. Around 32,000 years ago, while our ancestors were still hunters and gatherers, wild wolves in East Asia joined groups of humans as scavengers. They were domesticated and then artificially selected to increase docility, leading to dogs that are closely related to what are currently known as Chinese native dogs [2]. Over millennia, various traits such as size, hair length, color and body shape were artificially selected for, altering the genetics of these domesticated descendants of wolves so much that we now have breeds such as Chihuahuas and corgis that barely resemble wolves at all! Since this time, artificial selection has been applied to many different species and has helped us develop all sorts of animals from prize-winning racehorses to muscular beef cattle.

(Video) Genetically Modified Organisms

Artificial selection has also been utilized with a variety of plants. The earliest evidence of artificial selection of plants dates back to 7800 BCE in archaeological sites found in southwest Asia, where scientists have found domestic varieties of wheat [3]. However, one of the most dramatic and prevalent alterations in plant genetics has occurred through artificial selection of corn. Corn, or maize, began as a wild grass called teosinte that had tiny ears with very few kernels [4]. Over the hundreds of years, teosinte was selectively bred to have larger and larger ears with more and more kernels, resulting in what we now know as corn. A similar process has given us large heads of broccoli, bananas with nearly unnoticeable seeds, and apples that are sweet and juicy.

Although artificial selection is an ancient process that is still used today, most current conversations regarding GMOs refer to a much more modern process of altering the genetics of organisms.

The Birth of Modern Genetic Modification

An enormous breakthrough in GMO technology came in 1973, when Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen worked together to engineer the first successful genetically engineered (GE) organism [5]. The two scientists developed a method to very specifically cut out a gene from one organism and paste it into another. Using this method, they transferred a gene that encodes antibiotic resistance from one strain of bacteria into another, bestowing antibiotic resistance upon the recipient. One year later, Rudolf Jaenisch and Beatrice Mintz utilized a similar procedure in animals, introducing foreign DNA into mouse embryos [6].

Although this new technology opened up countless avenues of research possibilities, immediately after its development, the media, government officials, and scientists began to worry about the potential ramifications on human health and Earth’s ecosystems [7]. By the middle of 1974, a moratorium on GE projects was universally observed, allowing time for experts to come together and consider the next steps during what has come to be known as the Asilomar Conference of 1975 [8]. At the conference, scientists, lawyers, and government officials debated the safety of GE experiments for three days. The attendees eventually concluded that the GE projects should be allowed to continue with certain guidelines in place [9]. For instance, the conference defined safety and containment regulations to mitigate the risks of each experiment. Additionally, they charged the principal investigator of each lab with ensuring adequate safety for their researchers, as well as with educating the scientific community about important developments. Finally, the established guidelines were expected to be fluid, influenced by further knowledge as the scientific community advanced.

Due to the unprecedented transparency and cooperation at the Asilomar Conference, government bodies around the world supported the move to continue with GE research, thus launching a new era of modern genetic modification.

(Video) GMO Infomercial

From Corgis to Corn: A Brief Look at the Long History of GMO Technology - Science in the News (1)

Use of Genetically Engineered Organisms

In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court of the ruled that scientists from General Electric could patent bacteria that were genetically engineered to break down crude oil to help with oil spill mitigation [10]. This ruling legally permitted ownership rights over GMOs, giving large companies the incentive to rapidly develop GMO tools that could both be useful and profitable.

Two years later, in 1982, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved the first human medication produced by a genetically modified organism. Bacteria had been genetically engineered to synthesize human insulin, allowing them to produce enough of the hormone to purify, package, and prescribe it to diabetes patients as the drug Humulin [11].

While uses for genetic engineering range from oil spills to medication, perhaps the most controversial application is for food production. The first field experiments of food crops that had been genetically modified using recombinant DNA technology began in 1987. After five years of extensive health and environmental testing, Calgene’s Flavr Savr tomato became the first food crop to be approved for commercial production by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These tomatoes were modified to include a DNA sequence that inhibited production of a natural tomato protein, increasing the firmness and extending the shelf life of the Flavr Savr variety.

In addition to making food more aesthetically pleasing, scientists have developed crops that are easier to for farmers to cultivate. In 1995 the first pesticide-producing crop was approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after rigorous testing [12]. A year later, Bt corn was approved, and now the majority of corn in the U.S. has the Bt toxin gene (see this article). Additionally, crops have also been genetically engineered to resist herbicides, making it easier for farmers to control unwanted plants in their fields. Perhaps the most famous herbicide resistant crops are the Roundup Ready or glyphosate-resistant plants (see this article). The first of these glyphosate-resistant crops was a variety of soybean, engineered by Monsanto in 1996. Now glyphosate-resistant technology has been applied to many other crops, including corn and sugar beets.

(Video) Gmos

Scientists have also genetically engineered crops to increase nutrition value. For instance, Golden Rice was developed in 2000 with the goal to combat vitamin A deficiency, which is estimated to kill over 500,000 people every year (see this article)[13].

Although many species of animals have been genetically engineered, the vast majority of this technology is used for research purposes, and to date, there have been no GE animals approved by the FDA for use in food production [14]. However, in 2009, the U.S. FDA approved the first biological product produced by a GE animal, ATryn, a drug used to treat a rare blood clotting disorder [15].

Genetically Engineered Food Controversies

There have been many controversies regarding GE technology, with the majority relating to GE food. While some critics object to the use of this technology based on religious or philosophical bases, most critics object on the basis of environmental or health concerns. For instance, a 1999 publication showed Bt toxin had negative effects on butterfly populations in laboratory tests, leading to strong objections of Bt use, but follow-up studies in actual farming fields confirmed the safety of this technology [16]. In a different example, the economic stress of the poor yield of GE cotton crops in India over the late 1990s and early 2000s was associated by many organizations with a presumed increase in farmer suicides [17]. However, it was later concluded that suicide rates were actually unchanged after introduction of GE cotton, and that there were economic benefits of GE cotton for most Indian farmers [18].

During the same time frame, public awareness of the existence of GE foods increased, and calls for regulation of GE food grew louder, resulting in labeling requirements for GE food in many countries. Today, 64 countries have mandatory labeling laws for GE food [19]. However, the United States still does not have a mandatory, nationwide labeling law, although many advocacy groups are lobbying to enact one. These groups argue that labeling GE food is important for consumer choice and for monitoring unforeseen problems associated with the technology [20]. In contrast, groups opposing labels claim a law would unnecessarily eliminate consumer demand for current GE crops, causing steep increases in food price and resource utilization [20].

Although the debate about GE food is active, and there is no shortage of opponents to the technology, the scientific community has largely come together and concluded consumption of GE food is no more dangerous and eating traditionally selected crops [21]. This conclusion has not stopped businesses from capitalizing on the current fear of GE food. In 2013, Chipotle became the first restaurant chain to label menu items as “GMO,” and in April of this year, the company announced the elimination of all ingredients made with GMOs, citing their “food with integrity journey” [22]. With cases such as this, it is safe to say the debate on GE food will continue for some time.

(Video) Movie on 10 2 16 at 9 43 PM #2

The Future of GMO Technology

There are countless potential uses of GE technology in development. These include plants with superior disease and drought resistance, animals with enhanced growth properties, and strategies for more efficient pharmaceutical production [23]. Likewise, GE technology itself is quickly advancing. Recently, researchers have developed a new technology called CRISPR, which takes advantage of bacterial systems to simplify genetic editing, allowing for easier development of GE organisms [24]. This technology could be used to expedite development of useful GE crops, facilitate disease elimination, or even alter entire ecosystems. Interestingly, recent advances in plant breeding techniques may increase the utility and rebound the popularity of the more traditional GMO method of selective breeding. Indeed, new drought resistant strains of various crops have been recently developed using traditional breeding methods [25].

The United Nations predicts that by 2050, humans will need to produce 70% more food than we currently do in order to adequately feed the global population (see this article) [26]. Indeed, innovative approaches will be required to solve this problem, and genetically engineering our food is a potentially useful tool. As scientists look forward at ways to create better crop survival, yield, and nutrition, it is important that we remember where all of this work began, and give credit to the pioneers who have made our advancements possible. Our ancestors that selectively bred wolves to eventually develop Corgis could not foresee that today we would be able to genetically engineer corn to withstand pests, herbicides, and drought. What is the future of GMO technology that we ourselves can’t foresee now?

Gabriel Rangel is a Ph.D. candidate in the Biological Sciences in Public Health Program at Harvard University.

This article is part of the August 2015 Special Edition, Genetically Modified Organisms and Our Food.

References

  1. “GMO Search Term.” Google Trends, July 2015. https://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=GMO
  2. Zimmer, C. “From Fearsome Predator to Man’s Best Friend.” New York Times, May 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/16/science/dogs-from-fearsome-predator-to-mans-best-friend.html
  3. Balter, M. “ Farming Was So Nice, It Was Invented at Least Twice.” Science, July 2013. http://news.sciencemag.org/archaeology/2013/07/farming-was-so-nice-it-was-invented-least-twice
  4. “The Evolution of Corn.” Genetics Learning Center, University of Utah, July 2015. http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/selection/corn/
  5. Cohen, S. et. al. “Construction of Biologically Functional Bacterial Plasmids In Vitro.” PNAS, November 1973. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC427208/
  6. Jaenisch, R. and Mintz, B. “Simian Virus 40 DNA Sequences in DNA of Healthy Adult Mice Derived from Preimplantation Blastocysts Injected with Viral DNA.” PNAS, April 1974. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC388203/
    7. Committee on Recombinant DNA Molecules. “Potential Biohazards of Recombinant DNA Molecules.” PNAS, July 1974. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC388511/?page=1
  7. Berg, P. “Asilomar and Recombinant DNA.” Nobel Media AB, August 2004. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/1980/berg-article.html
  8. Berg, P. et. al. “Summary Statement of the Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA Molecules.” PNAS, June 1975. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC432675/pdf/pnas00049-0007.pdf
  9. “Biotechnology.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 2015. http://www.britannica.com/technology/biotechnology#ref926019
  10. Altman, L. “A New Insulin Given Approval for Use in the U.S.” The New York Times, October 1982. http://www.nytimes.com/1982/10/30/us/a-new-insulin-given-approval-for-use-in-us.html
  11. “EPA’s Regulation of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) Crops.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Februray 2014. http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/biopesticides/pips/regofbtcrops.htm
  12. Ye et. al. “Engineering the Provitamin A (β-Carotene) Biosynthetic Pathway into (Carotenoid-Free) Rice Endosperm.” Science, January 2000. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/287/5451/303
  13. “Genetically Engineered Animals: Consumer Q&A.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, June 2015. http://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/developmentapprovalprocess/geneticengineering/geneticallyengineeredanimals/ucm113672.htm
  14. “FDA Approves Orphan Drug ATryn to Treat Rare Clotting Disorder.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, February 2009. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm109074.htm
  15. Sears, M. et. al. “Impact ofBtcorn pollen on monarch butterfly populations: A risk assessment.” PNAS, August 2001. http://www.pnas.org/content/98/21/11937.long
  16. Heeter, C. “Seeds of Suicide: India’s Desperate Farmers.” Frontline World: PBS, July 2005. http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/rough/2005/07/seeds_of_suicid.html
  17. Gruère, G. et. al. “ Bt Cotton and Farmer Suicides in India.” International Food Policy Research Institute, October 2008. http://cdm15738.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p15738coll2/id/14501/filename/14502.pdf
  18. “Labeling around the World.” Just Label It Campaign, July 2015. http://www.justlabelit.org/right-to-know-center/labeling-around-the-world/
  19. “Labels for GMO Foods Are a Bad Idea.” Scientific American, August 2013. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/labels-for-gmo-foods-are-a-bad-idea/
  20. “A Decade of EU-Funded GMO Research.” European Union, 2010. http://ec.europa.eu/research/biosociety/pdf/a_decade_of_eu-funded_gmo_research.pdf
  21. Zimmer, C. “Chipotle Says Adios To GMOs, As Food Industry Strips Away Ingredients.” NPR News, April 2015. http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/04/27/402632212/chipotle-says-adios-to-gmos-as-food-industry-strips-away-ingredients
  22. “Frequently Asked Questions on Genetically Modified Foods.” WHO, 2015. http://www.who.int/foodsafety/areas_work/food-technology/faq-genetically-modified-food/en/
  23. Ledford, H. “CRISPR, the Disruptor.” Nature, June 2015. http://www.nature.com/news/crispr-the-disruptor-1.17673
  24. Gurian-Sherman, D. “Are GMOs Worth the Trouble?” MIT Technology Review, March 2014. http://www.technologyreview.com/view/525931/are-gmos-worth-the-trouble/
  25. Northoff, E. “2050: A third more mouths to feed.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, October 2009. http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/35571/icode/

FAQs

How are GMOs used in corn? ›

Corn is the most commonly grown crop in the United States, and most of it is GMO. Most GMO corn is created to resist insect pests or tolerate herbicides. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn is a GMO corn that produces proteins that are toxic to certain insect pests but not to humans, pets, livestock, or other animals.

What is the history of GMOs? ›

1973: Biochemists Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen develop genetic engineering by inserting DNA from one bacteria into another. 1982: FDA approves the first consumer GMO product developed through genetic engineering: human insulin to treat diabetes.

When was GMO corn invented? ›

Over the past century, corn has evolved with the availability of hybrid corn in the 1930s and the planting of GM crops in the mid-1990s. Due to the insect resistance and/or herbicide tolerance of GM corn, more and more of it was planted.

What was the first GMO corn? ›

Biotechnology has made it possible to transfer genetic material within a species as well as between species. As a result of this development, the first genetically modified (GM) maize seed to resist pests, known as Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) maize, was released in 1997.

What gene is added to GMO corn? ›

In a laboratory a corn plant is transformed with this new modified cry 1Ab gene which will provide the corn plant with insecticidal protection. The corn plant which is able to be transformed does not contain all of the optimal genes which a producer needs in the field.

Is GMO corn healthy? ›

Since GMO foods were introduced in the 1990s, research3 has shown that they are just as safe as non-GMO foods. Additionally, research3 shows that GMO plants fed to farm animals are as safe as non-GMO animal food.

Who started GMO corn? ›

An enormous breakthrough in GMO technology came in 1973, when Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen worked together to engineer the first successful genetically engineered (GE) organism [5].

Who created the first GMO? ›

The first genetically modified organism was developed in 1973 by biochemists Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen, who inserted DNA from one bacterium into another.

What is GMO explain it? ›

A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an animal, plant, or microbe whose DNA has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. For thousands of years, humans have used breeding methods to modify organisms. Corn, cattle, and even dogs have been selectively bred over generations to have certain desired traits.

What are the benefits of GMO corn? ›

Because they require fewer pesticides, land and water, GMOs help keep food production costs down resulting in lower prices for consumers. GM technology helps reduce the price of crops used for food, such as corn, soybeans and sugar beets by as much as 15-30%.

How do you make GMO corn? ›

By inserting the Bt gene into the DNA of the corn plant, scientists gave it the insect-resistance trait. This new trait does not change the other existing traits. In the laboratory, scientists grow the new corn plant to ensure it has adopted the desired trait (insect resistance).

Where is GMO corn grown? ›

Among the countries growing GM crops, the USA (70.9 Mha), Brazil (44.2 Mha), Argentina (24.5 Mha) India (11.6 Mha) and Canada (11 Mha) are the largest users. Within Europe, five EU countries grow GM maize – Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia. Spain is the leading country (0.1 Mha).

What is GMO of corn its modified characteristics and features? ›

Genetically modified maize (corn) is a genetically modified crop. Specific maize strains have been genetically engineered to express agriculturally-desirable traits, including resistance to pests and to herbicides. Maize strains with both traits are now in use in multiple countries.

How much corn is GMO? ›

Currently, up to 92% of U.S. corn is genetically engineered (GE), as are 94% of soybeans and 94% of cotton [1] (cottonseed oil is often used in food products).

What are the benefits of GMO crops? ›

Genetically engineered foods
  • More nutritious food.
  • Tastier food.
  • Disease- and drought-resistant plants that require fewer environmental resources (such as water and fertilizer)
  • Less use of pesticides.
  • Increased supply of food with reduced cost and longer shelf life.
  • Faster growing plants and animals.
20 Aug 2020

What is the difference between GMO corn and regular corn? ›

The difference between conventional and non-GMO corn is simply a higher level of trait-free purity. This is achieved by seed production practices, farmer production practices, and marketing strategy. Similar to conventional corn, non-GMO corn seed does not contain any intentionally added GM material.

How can you tell if corn is genetically modified? ›

Identify how produce is grown by reading its label or sticker number.
  1. 4-digit number means food was conventionally grown.
  2. 5-digit number that begins with a 9 means produce is organic.
  3. 5-digit number that begins with an 8 means it is genetically modified. (

Why is GMO corn harmful? ›

One of the major disadvantages of GMO corn is its potential to trigger allergies. First, genetic material from a potentially allergenic food may be transferred to corn, also transferring the allergenic properties. Secondly, genetic modification alters the actual DNA of the corn.

What are the pros and cons of GMO corn? ›

The pros of GMO crops are that they may contain more nutrients, are grown with fewer pesticides, and are usually cheaper than their non-GMO counterparts. The cons of GMO foods are that they may cause allergic reactions because of their altered DNA and they may increase antibiotic resistance.

Does GMO corn increase crop yields? ›

The researchers' key findings: GMO corn varieties increased crop yields 5.6 to 24.5 percent relative to their non-GMO equivalents.

When was the first GMO food created? ›

The first genetically modified food approved for release was the Flavr Savr tomato in 1994. Developed by Calgene, it was engineered to have a longer shelf life by inserting an antisense gene that delayed ripening.

What parent organisms are used to make GMO corn? ›

In the case of Bt corn, the donor organism is a naturally occurring soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis, and the gene of interest produces a protein that kills Lepidoptera larvae, in particular, European corn borer. This protein is called the Bt delta endotoxin.

What is the history of corn? ›

Corn was originally domesticated in Mexico by native peoples by about 9,000 years ago. They used many generations of selective breeding to transform a wild teosinte grass with small grains into the rich source of food that is modern Zea mays.

Are GMO foods safe? ›

GM foods currently available on the international market have passed safety assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.

How are GMO foods made? ›

GM is a technology that involves inserting DNA into the genome of an organism. To produce a GM plant, new DNA is transferred into plant cells. Usually, the cells are then grown in tissue culture where they develop into plants. The seeds produced by these plants will inherit the new DNA.

Why were GMO foods created? ›

Most existing genetically modified crops have been developed to improve yield through the introduction of resistance to plant diseases or of increased tolerance of herbicides. GM foods can also allow for reductions in food prices through improved yields and reliability.

Why is GMO important? ›

Some benefits of genetic engineering in agriculture are increased crop yields, reduced costs for food or drug production, reduced need for pesticides, enhanced nutrient composition and food quality, resistance to pests and disease, greater food security, and medical benefits to the world's growing population.

What is the most common GMO food? ›

Soy is the most common genetically modified crop in this country, and can be found in many forms: whole soy beans, oil, and soy lecithin, to name a few.

What are the risks and benefits of GMOs? ›

The most notable GMO risks to humans are the potential development of allergens to GM related crops and toxicity from GM crops. However, studies also show GM crops have benefits including the increased nutritional value in foods.

What foods contain GMO corn? ›

GMO corn may be found in processed foods in the form of cornstarch, corn oil, and corn syrup. However, most GMO corn is used to feed livestock, like cows and chickens.

Is GMO corn sustainable? ›

Many GMO crops grow better than their non-GMO counterparts under environmental stresses and are thus able to ward off crop diseases and pests. GMO crops can grow with less water, energy and pesticides—all environmentally sustainable benefits.

Why is corn so important? ›

Most of the crop is used domestically as the main energy ingredient in livestock feed and for fuel ethanol production. Corn is also processed into a multitude of food and industrial products including starch, sweeteners, corn oil, and beverage and industrial alcohols.

How does GMO increase yield? ›

The reduction of losses by pests, viruses and weeds that compete for soil nutrients, together with savings in phytosanitary products and fuel, indirectly increase the final yield when compared with conventional crops. These advantages were previously documented in two major academic reviews by agricultural economists.

How are GMO animals made? ›

In a genetically modified animal, DNA sequences have been inserted, removed or modified in order to introduce a new trait or change a characteristic such as the disease resistance of an animal. The technology used is known as recombinant-DNA technology and was first applied in the 1970s.

How do GMO help farmers? ›

GMO crops that are tolerant to herbicides help farmers control weeds without damaging the crops. When farmers use these herbicide-tolerant crops they do not need to till the soil, which they normally do to get rid of weeds. This no-till planting helps to maintain soil health and lower fuel and labor use.

How many products are made from corn? ›

In fact, a typical grocery store contains 4,000 items that list corn ingredients on the label. Many other products depend on corn as well, from paper goods and cardboard packaging, to all the meat, milk, eggs, poultry and other protein products that come from corn-fed animals.

How many GMO foods are there? ›

What genetically modified foods have been approved for human consumption in the United States? There are more than 120 varieties of GM crops that have been regulated in the United States mostly versions of herbicide tolerant or insect resistant crops. There are dozen approved GMO corn varieties, for example.

How does GMO affect corn? ›

In their conclusion, the authors stated that 21 years of field data analysis revealed GMO corn offers farmers increased grain yields, improved grain quality, and a decrease in insect damage. They also note modest or no effect on numbers of non-target insects.

How do you make GMO corn? ›

By inserting the Bt gene into the DNA of the corn plant, scientists gave it the insect-resistance trait. This new trait does not change the other existing traits. In the laboratory, scientists grow the new corn plant to ensure it has adopted the desired trait (insect resistance).

Is corn a GMO product? ›

So, is all corn GMO? Yes, technically all corn on the planet has been modified by human activities – or, put simply, there's no such thing as non-GMO corn – but only around 80% of corn in the US has transgenes inserted by the modern technique of transgenesis.

How does GMO corn help the environment? ›

GMOs also reduce the amount of pesticides that need to be sprayed, while simultaneously increasing the amount of crops available to be eaten and sold. Over the last 20 years, GMOs have reduced pesticide applications by 8.2% and helped increase crop yields by 22%.

What are the pros and cons of GMO corn? ›

The pros of GMO crops are that they may contain more nutrients, are grown with fewer pesticides, and are usually cheaper than their non-GMO counterparts. The cons of GMO foods are that they may cause allergic reactions because of their altered DNA and they may increase antibiotic resistance.

How much corn is GMO? ›

Currently, up to 92% of U.S. corn is genetically engineered (GE), as are 94% of soybeans and 94% of cotton [1] (cottonseed oil is often used in food products).

What are the benefits of GMO crops? ›

Genetically engineered foods
  • More nutritious food.
  • Tastier food.
  • Disease- and drought-resistant plants that require fewer environmental resources (such as water and fertilizer)
  • Less use of pesticides.
  • Increased supply of food with reduced cost and longer shelf life.
  • Faster growing plants and animals.
20 Aug 2020

Where is GMO corn grown? ›

Among the countries growing GM crops, the USA (70.9 Mha), Brazil (44.2 Mha), Argentina (24.5 Mha) India (11.6 Mha) and Canada (11 Mha) are the largest users. Within Europe, five EU countries grow GM maize – Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia. Spain is the leading country (0.1 Mha).

How can you tell if corn is genetically modified? ›

Identify how produce is grown by reading its label or sticker number.
  1. 4-digit number means food was conventionally grown.
  2. 5-digit number that begins with a 9 means produce is organic.
  3. 5-digit number that begins with an 8 means it is genetically modified. (

What is the difference between GMO corn and regular corn? ›

The difference between conventional and non-GMO corn is simply a higher level of trait-free purity. This is achieved by seed production practices, farmer production practices, and marketing strategy. Similar to conventional corn, non-GMO corn seed does not contain any intentionally added GM material.

Why is corn whole GMO? ›

Well, it's tough enough to withstand the rigors of the human digestive system. That's why the casing of the corn kernel passes through your system looking fully intact. The inside of the kernel, however, does break down in your stomach and intestines.

Is organic corn GMO? ›

The use of genetic engineering, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), is prohibited in organic products. This means an organic farmer can't plant GMO seeds, an organic cow can't eat GMO alfalfa or corn, and an organic soup producer can't use any GMO ingredients.

Which corn is not GMO? ›

Popcorn, also called flint corn‚ is its own distinct type of corn. It makes up very little of all corn grown in North America, and there is not any GMO popcorn available on the market at this time.

What are the 3 benefits of GMOs in environment? ›

Lower carbon emissions. Healthier soil. More food on less land.

What is the purpose of GMO? ›

Genetically modified crops (GM crops) are those engineered to introduce a new trait into the species. Purposes of GM crops generally include resistance to certain pests, diseases, or environmental conditions, or resistance to chemical treatments (e.g. resistance to a herbicide).

What is the importance of GMO? ›

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) provide certain advantages to producers and consumers. Modified plants, for example, can at least initially help protect crops by providing resistance to a specific disease or insect, ensuring greater food production. GMOs are also important sources of medicine.

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