Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What you need to know about GMO labels | MNN - Mother Nature Network

What you need to know about GMO labels | MNN - Mother Nature Network
What it and other acronyms mean, who the stakeholders are, and why you should pay attention. 

Some fear that inserting DNA from animals, bacteria and viruses into food crops can cause health problems. Others worry that pollen from plants on a GMO farm might reach plants on a non-GMO farm. That could hurt the ability of the non-GMO farmer to sell crops overseas because many countries do not allow GMO crops. Others fear that GE crops might lead to unexpected and harmful changes in the modified plant, create unexpected environmental effects or make plants more susceptible to some pests and less susceptible to others.
Meanwhile, some people simply are confused about what GMO and GE actually mean.
“In common usage, GMO and GE indicate that a plant or a seed or even an animal has a gene or genes that are different from the normal variety,” said Steve Beckendorf, a professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. “This could be by inserting a foreign gene, or by activating, inactivating or changing the expression of a normal gene.”
GE crops accounted for 93 percent of soybean acres, 88 percent of corn acres and 94 percent of all planted cotton acres in 2012, he said. Other GE crops commercially grown in the United States are canola, sugar beets, alfalfa, papaya and squash, but ERS does not have statistics on those GE crops.
Some animal products such as milk, meat and eggs may be impacted by GMO and GE crops because these crops are used as feed for livestock.
...the question of whether GMO and GE foods are the key to human survival is causing a clash of ethics and biotechnology. It’s a battle that’s being fought from farm rows to supermarket aisles to government corridors around the world. Ground zero in that battle just may be at the ballot box in Washington state.

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