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% http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/259572/eib3_1_.pdf http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/agricultural-productivity-in-the-us.aspx Status of GM crops USA Corn 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 http://chilebio.cl/documentos/Publicaciones.pdf “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 * EFSA * EU Economic Commission * World Health Organization * AAAS * 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 unsustainable’ 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 Soil Water BUT: may lead to reliance on a single pesticide. Yet, you still hear about … Pseudo-Science: Superweeds; Carcinogens; Rat and pig studies; Terminator seeds; Unpleasant long term effects; Biodiversity destruction; ‘Unnatural’ gene combinations; etc. Non-Science: 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”? Conclusion: 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.