Arm Yourself Against Attacks by Anti-GMO Activists

Arm yourself against attacks by
anti-GMO activists
Alan McHughen
Botany and Plant Sciences
University of California,
Riverside, Ca.
[email protected]
Most people have romantic notions
of farming and food production
Modern agriculture is actually…
Intense but Sustainable Production Oriented
US Agriculture
 Productivity increase since 1948 = 170%
 1900 US agriculture workforce = 41%
 2000 US agriculture workforce = <2%
Status of GM crops
 Cotton
 Soybean
> 90%
> 90%
> 90%
Argentina: Soybean
> 90%
 Canada: Canola
> 90%
 India: Cotton
> 90%
Farmers worldwide support GM technology!
Assurance of Safety
“There are no scientific studies on GMO safety!”
Over 600 technical, peer reviewed studies in the
literature, covering every aspect of GMO safety
“There is no consensus in the scientific and medical
communities on the safety of GMOs!”
Greg Jaffe, CSPI:
“There is no reliable evidence that ingredients made from
current GE crops pose any health risk whatsoever”
Scientific Consensus?
Generally positive
* US National Academies
* US Institute of Medicine
* American Medical Association
* British Royal Society
* Royal Society of Medicine
* EU Economic Commission
* World Health Organization
* American Dietetic Association
* International Seed Foundation
Etc, etc…
Generally negative
Benefits of GM crops
(somewhat) Higher yields
Cleaner crops; fewer weeds and other contaminants
Reduced mycotoxins in Bt maize
Only feasible answer to Huanlongbing in Citrus
Only feasible answer to Pierce’s disease in Grape
Only feasible means to increase world food
production by 2050.
Selection from a hom ogeno us po pulatio n
Selection from a
heterogen ous
pop ulatio n
Cro ssing of existing a pprov ed pla nt
var ieties*
rDN A via Agrobacterium , tra nsfer of
gen es fro m clo sely re lated specie s
Con ventio nal po llen b ased c rossin g of
clo sely re lated specie s
Con ventio nal po llen b ased c rossin g of
distantly related spec ies or embry o rescue
Som atic h y brid ization
Som aclon al var iation (SCV)
rDN A bio listic , tra nsfer of gen es fro m
clo sely re lated specie s
rDN A via Agrobacterium , tra nsfer of
gen es fro m distantly relate d spec ies
rDN A bio listic , tra nsfer of gen es fro m
distantly related spec ies
Mu tation breed ing, ch emic al
mu tagene sis, io nizing radia tion
Less likely
*in cludes all m ethods of br eeding
Likelihood of unintended effects (arbitrary scale)
Mo re like ly
NAS/IOM findings
Genetic engineering is NOT inherently hazardous
The risks of rDNA are similar to the risks posed by
traditional forms of plant breeding
There are NO documented adverse health effects
from eating foods derived from Biotech crops.
Allegations of harm are unfounded
 Update: Still true as of May, 2013.
‘GE crops are released with no
regulatory oversight’
USDA (APHIS) - environmental issues
HHS (FDA)- food and feed safety; focus on
toxicants, allergens and other antinutrients
EPA- pesticide usage issues
‘GE Crops are unnatural and
US: NAS, 2010. Impact of GE crops on farm
sustainability in the US
Also see:
Brookes and Barfoot, 2012
Qaim, 2009
Sustainability Impacts in the USA
Conclusions: Planting GE crops generally :
Is better for the environment than conventional crops
 Uses less pesticide
 Uses safer pesticides than those used in conventional
cropping systems
 Reduces tillage, leading to improvements in
 Water
BUT: may lead to reliance on a single pesticide.
Yet, you still hear about …
Superweeds; Carcinogens; Rat and pig studies;
Terminator seeds; Unpleasant long term effects;
Biodiversity destruction; ‘Unnatural’ gene
combinations; etc.
Monsanto world domination plans; Corrupt and
desperate scientists; Impact on poor/small/organic
farmers, ‘Nobody wants GMOs!’
 ‘They
refuse to even label them so consumers can decide’
Biotech beef tomatoes?
from Holland?
Sodium free?
Diet Water?
“Truthful and not misleading”?
We DO need more food
Stick with Science
Educate the Curious
Science supports GM food and farming
Most people are open minded, but don’t know much
about either science or where food actually comes from
Challenge the Liars!
Especially in public. Farmers are people, too, and are
90% in favor of GM agriculture.
 But the activists are eating our lunch, stealing our
credibility, when their lies go unchallenged.

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