Saturday, February 2, 2013

GUEST COLUMN: Research promotes usefulness, safety of GMO crops -

GUEST COLUMN: Research promotes usefulness, safety of GMO crops -

After reading the recent article "Genetically modified organisms: what they are and why should we care?" by Darlene Ray, I was mortified by the gross generalizations and scientifically unfounded accusations that were presented to the media by an activist who has no formal training on the subject.

As a University of Illinois master's student in crop science—as well as a new Illinois alum with a Bachelor of Science degree in crop sciences, with an emphasis in plant biotechnology and molecular biology—I have worked and conducted research connected to many GMO crops at the university and industry levels.

Many essential factors involved with genetic engineering are forgotten or purposely omitted in this sensationalized article.

The article stated there were no increases in yield from GMO traits. However, insect resistant, BT corn, varieties help the farmer reduce devastating losses that can be caused by the corn root worm beetle, and increase the efficiency of harvest operations.

La Salle County has a high level of these beetles, and the trait works overtime protecting the farmer's livelihood.

Many anti-GMO activists advocate that GMO crops are less sustainable, or less green, than organic crops. Modern agronomic practices include integrated pest management, which utilizes research-based thresholds and recommendations to employ a variety of practices to control and prevent resistant weed, insect, or plant disease populations.

Support the American farmer.

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