GMO - Genetically Modified Organisms
Devil's Tool or Hope for the Future?
When it comes to the subject of GMOs — genetically modified organisms — nobody sits on the fence, calmly watching the cornstalks swaying in the breeze. The farmers, some of them anyway, look at their fertile fields and count their bushels and their bucks; the seed purveyors survey the results of their complex scientific handiwork and convince themselves that they're helping to feed — to save — humankind. Concerned consumers, environmentalists, and the kinds of farmers who irrigate their soil with their own sweat, meanwhile, see not corn or cash or glorious technology but something unnatural, something dangerous, something evil. That other lot just shakes their heads and says, hey, we've been fooling Mother Nature for centuries; that's how we domesticated plants and animals; that's how we built civilization. GMOs are just a more efficient way of growing things, good for everybody. GMOs, in other words, are a matter for debate.
That's why we at The Daily Meal thought we should tackle it as a group project. About two months ago, we got together and started talking about GMOs, and we decided to put together a special report — our first on this scale — to address what we all agree was a vitally important, maddeningly multi-faceted topic. We divided up the labors, delving into the considerable research on the subject, talking with the experts — on both sides of the issue. We ended up with a dozen prose takes on the subject and three videos, covering it from, well, not every angle — that would take a hundred takes, a thousand — but what we felt were the most important ones.
Haley Willard defined the basics with The ABCs of GMOs. Lauren Gordon scored in-depth interviews for The GMO Debate: A Farmer vs. Monsanto; told us which crops were most likely to be GMOs in The 8 Most Genetically Modified Crops; and addressed the contentious issue of identifying GMOs in Should GMO Foods Be Labeled? (Along the way, she also functioned as the de facto editor of this whole package.) Jess Novak looked at international GMO laws in How the World Regulates GMOs and investigated the forms protests against these foods take in Anti-GMO Activists Take a Stand. Emily Jacobs investigated farmed GMO fish in 'Frankenfish' or a Way to Feed Us All?, and compiled a useful roster of groups concerned with GMO issues, entitled A List of GMO Awareness Organizations. Dan Myers interviewed top chefs to get their takes for How Do Leading Chefs Feel About GMOs? and revealed 15 Brands You Didn't Know Were GMO-Free. Jonathan Hirsch followed the money in The Economic Issues Surrounding GMOs. Eva Zaccaria conducted video interviews [see below] on GMOs with celebrity nutritionist Ashley Koff and with vendors at Manhattan's Union Square Greenmarket, and I constructed a GMO timeline. We're not solving any problems here, but we hope we're adding to the conversation, and maybe nudging a few people off the fence. — Colman Andrews, Editorial Director
The debate over genetic modification has been argued for many centuries, but in recent years it has come to play a leading role in our conversations about food, health, agricultural policy, and the environment. What exactly are genetically modified organisms, or GMOs? What is the difference, if any, between genetic modification and genetic engineering? How long have we been genetically modifying our plants and animals, and to what purposes? What are the pros and cons for of the practice? And what does the future hold for genetic... read more
There's a lot of talk about genetically modified crops today, but the truth is that there are only nine kinds that are currently approved for commercial production — though there are also a number that are considered "at risk" because they are susceptible to cross-pollination by approved GMOs. According to the FDA, GMOs are assessed based upon their toxicity and allergenic properties. "... Before they [crops] can be planted in the U.S.,"... read more
To many foes of GMOs, most definitely including a good number of small farmers, the multinational Monsanto Company, headquartered in Creve Coeur, Missouri, is the Great Satan — a pioneer of genetically engineered seed and perceived enemy of biodiversity around the world. Its defenders see it as a forward-looking agricultural biotechnology company whose innovations help to feed a hungry world. To help clarify some of the issues involved, we asked spokesmen of both points of view — an activist farmer, author, and lecturer who is... read more
When you make your grocery list, you usually write down general items. Apples, snacks, corn, cereal... but when it comes time to actually choose a cereal or snack, arbitrary selection just won’t do. From moms who worry about what their kids are eating to health-conscious consumers, a simple flip of the box and a few numbers on the nutrition label could help make your decision for you. Whether you're trying to stick to a diet or have other health concerns, reading the label allows to you choose what's best — or at least what... read more
The Daily Meal Special Report Video
Opinions on how — or whether — to regulate GMOs in the food chain vary widely from country to country, and there is only one major international document concerning the issue. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is intended to function as an international agreement on biosafety, regulating the international trade, handling, and use of genetically engineered organisms. The protocol is designed to minimize the possibility of genetic pollution and to ensure the safety of crops and to take into account risks of human health... read more
There are many different types of genetically modified foods out there, serving different purposes. For example, scientists have been able to engineer a variety of rice that contains additional nutrients apologists say are vital for the health of the developing nations that depend on it. At the same time, companies are altering the genetic structure of crops like wheat to be resistant to certain diseases, to increase yield, extend the season, and expand where it can be grown. Genetically modified protein is also entering... read more
From ethical and ecological concerns to health issues and economic factors, the questions around genetic modification of farmed fish are swimming in debate. Genetically modified fish are those that have had their DNA scientifically modified to introduce new traits or amplify existing ones. GMO fish have the ability to resist certain diseases, are tolerant to higher or lower temperatures than their natural counterparts would be, and typically grow faster than wild or conventionally farmed fish. This brings profitable fish to... read more
In today's day and age, it's easier than ever to find foods that suit your specifications to a tee. Organic? You got it. Gluten-free? No problem. Thankfully, it's also easier than you might think to find food products that are free of GMOs (genetically modified organisms). From a popular brand of chewing gum to a favorite gelato to a few well-known cereal brands, we tracked down 15. There are plenty of reasons why brands would want to cut GMOs out of their foods. There's no denying that it's great for the brand's image; just... read more
Whether or not genetically modified foods should be mass-manufactured and available in the marketplace is one of the most contentious food and public policy issues of our time. Some countries have banned or severaly limited their importation. In 2011, Hungarian officials burned over one thousand acres of corn crops suspected to contain genetically modified seeds. In the United States, corporations with a vested interest in manufacturing GM seeds have made their presence known. In 2013, the opposition campaign against the... read more
While protestors' concerns about GMOs and their goals for protesting vary from organization to organization and locality to locality, many people who actively protest genetically engineered foods cite the following issues as being at the root of their apprehension: an increased risk of crop contamination, altered nutrients, potential toxins, antibiotic resistance, amplified allergens, and ethical concerns. The multinational chemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation Monsanto, which is at the forefront of GMO seed... read more