Tag Archive: Modified

UF Survey Shows Most Floridians Want to Know More about Genetically Modified Foods

Fewer than half of Florida consumers survey by the UF PIE Centersay they would purchase genetically modied food or clothing, even if it cost less or was their favorite food.

Fewer than half of 500 Florida consumers surveyed say they would purchase genetically modied food or clothing, even if it cost less or was their favorite food.  Source: UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education.

While almost half of Floridians acknowledge buying genetically modified foods, a recent survey by the Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Florida reveals that most people want to know much more about those foods. “The study shows that Floridians believe they don’t know much about genetically modified foods and their benefits,” said Joy Rumble, assistant professor in agricultural education and communication at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “Many people are favorable to supporting research, and they think it’s essential that government support it. Floridians see a place for GM foods, but they do have hesitations.”

The PIE Center surveyed 500 Floridians on their perceptions of genetically modified foods. Respondents were largely unsure about the potential benefits of genetically modified food, with more than 40 percent neither agreeing nor disagreeing that food technology such as GMOs allows people to live longer or better lives.

Source: Center for Public Issues Education

A recent survey of 500 Florida consumers shows that only 33% considered genetically modified foods as safe.  Source: Center for Public Issues Education

However, there is a great potential to educate Floridians about the topic, as 64 percent of respondents indicated that they would like to learn more about genetically modified foods. Only 22 percent of Floridians agreed or strongly agreed that they received information about genetically modified food from a scientist, but 59 percent of respondents would like to learn more from universities.  “This is a great opportunity not only for UF but also for other educational institutions across the country to take the lead in educating the general public about genetically modified foods,” Rumble said.

In addition, many Floridians were favorable toward supporting research, with 42 percent agreeing that studies about genetically modified food are essential for improving the quality of life. Almost half agreed that the federal government should support research on genetically modified food. “The research results show opportunities to continue to educate and communicate with consumers about the safety of genetically modified food,” Rumble said. “Still, there is some negative perception about these foods out there.” For example, fewer than half of Florida’s residents say they would purchase genetically modified food or clothing, even if it cost less or was their favorite food. But, more than 40 percent of Floridians agreed or strongly agreed they have purchased genetically modified food in the past, while only 27 percent of Floridians believe they currently purchase genetically modified food.

PG

Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu

admin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/07/02/uf-survey-shows-most-floridians-want-to-know-more-about-genetically-modified-foods/

Genetically Modified (GM) Crops: Straight Talk on Complex, Often Controversial Technologies.

The use of genetics to create plant varieties with desirable traits is not a new agricultural procedure, however, the technologies available to scientists today are leaps and bounds beyond traditional plant breeding practices, and the use and safety of today's genetically modified crops is not without its own set of uncertainties and debate.

The use of genetics to create plant varieties with desirable traits is not a new agricultural procedure, however, the technologies available to scientists today are leaps and bounds beyond traditional plant breeding practices, and the use and safety of today’s genetically modified (GM) crops is not without its own set of uncertainties and debate.

The following article is intended to provide the reader with research-based publications on the oftentimes controversial topic of genetically modified plants.  From these publications and the references cited within them, it is hoped the reader will be empowered to formulate his or her own educated views on the use genetically modified crops.

As harvest begins in the Florida panhandle, those bushels of golden corn, sundried peanuts, and indispensable bales of cotton will become a common site along our country roads.  It is easy to take these products of modern agriculture for granted, but have you ever paused to think about how this harvest is possible today? 

Contemporary harvests are products of thousands of years of humankind’s instinctive search for and selection of the “best” plant or animal from fields of many.  The “best of the best” were carefully cultivated, bred, and nurtured to become the crops and domesticated livestock we know today.  Take for example corn; its ancestor (a plant called Teosinte) looks nothing like the tall abundant plants common today.  Varieties of modern corn are actually products of careful selection of desirable traits and plant breeding over many, many years. 

Through traditional plant breeding techniques, agronomists take advantage of the inherent genetic variability of plants to create varieties with desirable characteristics.  In fact, the renowned scientist Gregor Johann Mendel (July 20, 1822 – January 6, 1884) specialized in the hereditary characteristics and hybridization of garden peas.  It was as a result of these experiments, that Gregor Mendel became the founder of the science of modern Genetics. 

The use of traditional genetic principles to develop or engineer new plant varieties with desirable traits such as drought tolerance, disease resistance or yield increase, is not a new agricultural procedure, however, the techniques and capabilities available to scientists today are leaps and bounds beyond traditional plant breeding practices.  Chromosome mapping, gene splicing, transgenic technologies, etc. are just a few of the highly specialized tools available to modern plant breeders who develop genetically modified crops.  

As is true of many new technologies, the use and safety of genetically modified (GM) crops is not without its own set of uncertainties and debate. 

Proponents of GM crops cite the following benefits of this technology:

  • Increased pest and disease resistance resulting in healthier plants
  • Increased plant tolerance to drought, salinity and temperature extremes
  • Increased crop yields due to healthier, more tolerant crops.
  • Reduction of herbicide and insecticide use
  • Reduced crop production costs (use of less fuel, pesticides, etc) and greater consumer savings
  • Creation of more nutritious plants, for example “Golden Rice” which has high amounts of vitamin A and iron.
  • Increased adoption of soil saving, conservation practices of no-till or limited-till weed management.
  • Greater potential for sustainable food production on a global scale to feed the predicted world population of 9 billion people by 2050.

Opponents of GM crops cite the following risks of this technology:

  • Potential for introduction of allergens and toxins into foods that normally would not contain that allergen or toxin.
  • Accidental contamination between genetically modified and related non-genetically modified and organic crops
  • Adverse changes to the nutrient content of a crop
  • Creation of herbicide resistant “super” weeds due to hybridization with related GM resistant crop plants
  • Creation of insecticide resistant pests due to inadvertent selection of insects that are unaffected by the GM crops
  • Ecosystem alterations such as loss of biodiversity due to dominance by and spread of resistant weeds and insects
  • Potentially greater reliance on chemicals to combat resistant weeds and insects
  • Less reliance on a variety of proven Integrated Pest Management practices
  • Greater influence by profit-motivated factors rather than science-based factors

An objectively educated public is important for the future of these technologies. Below are brief excerpts from and links to research-based publications from the University of Florida, other Extension Land Grant Universities, and national and international organizations presenting both sides of this complex topic.  From studying the entirety of these publications and the references cited within them, it is hoped the reader will be empowered to formulate his or her own educated views about the use and future of genetically modified crops.  

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University of Florida: Genetically Modified Food

Industry has argued that we need GM foods because they will reduce production costs by reducing the need for additional chemicals (pesticides and fertilizers) and mechanical inputs. Theoretically, the savings could, in turn, be passed on to the consumer.….. The potential for GM foods to cause allergic reactions is the most obvious health concern associated with these products. Specific proteins in milk, eggs, wheat, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, soybeans, and shellfish cause over 90% of food allergies. If a protein from one of these food types were to be incorporated into a food that normally would not have this protein, people who are allergic to these proteins could unknowingly consume such a food and suffer allergic reactions.

University of Florida: A Synopsis of US Consumer Perception of Genetically Modified (Biotech) Crops

Biotechnology has now emerged as one of the most innovative technologies of modern times; this new technology is capable of improving a range of crops, including fruits, vegetables, and plantation crops, with greater precision while dealing with global challenges such as climate change. With more than 30 commercial GM crops grown on almost 160 million hectares in 29 countries and the expectation that there will be around 120 GM crops by 2015, it is clear that agro-biotechnology is growing.

Union of Concerned Scientists: Risks of Genetic Engineering

Technologies usually involve risks, and sometimes those risks turn out to be unexpected ones. DDT, for example, turned out to accumulate in fish and thin the shells of fish-eating birds like eagles and ospreys. And chlorofluorocarbons turned out to float into the upper atmosphere and destroy ozone, a chemical that shields the earth from dangerous radiation.  What harmful effects might turn out to be associated with the use of genetically engineered (GE) organisms? This is not a simple question. Answering it requires that we understand complex biological and ecological systems.

University of California – Davis: Safety of Genetically Engineered Food

Perspective:  While genetic engineering of foods continues to generate concern and controversy for some consumers, evidence to date has not indicated that any foods developed for human consumption using genetic engineering techniques pose risks greater than foods produced using traditional methods.  At the same time, we need to further develop and maintain scientifically based regulatory programs.  Such programs must be able to flexibly and fairly assess and manage the potential risks from the evolving technology, as well as evaluate these potential risks, on a case-by-case basis.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, Food safety and quality: Biotechnology (GM food)

The application of modern biotechnology to food and food production (GM food) presents new opportunities and potential benefits, as well as challenges in ensuring consumer protection. Recent developments have posed concerns, both real and perceived, about the safety of these technologies.  Member Countries, especially developing ones, look to FAO to provide sound and unbiased advice on the safety of GM food, and AGNS, in collaboration with international bodies such as Codex, has been involved in a wide range of biotechnology related issues, including:

  • Science-based safety evaluation and risk assessment systems to objectively determine the benefits and risks of GM food
  • Recommendations for the labeling of foods obtained through biotechnology
  • Assessing nutritional aspects of food derived from modern biotechnology
  • Detection of protein and/or DNA in GM food

GM crops: global socio-economic and environmental impacts 1996-2011

USDA Economic Research Service: Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S.

Purdue University: Purdue News July 2000: Understand GMO crops? Test yourself with this quiz

Purdue University: Purdue News Oct. 2000: Quiz yourself about foods made from genetically modified crops

U. S Food and Drug Administration: Foods Derived from Genetically Engineered Plants

 

PG

Author: Judy Ludlow – judy.ludlow@ufl.edu

Judy Ludlow is the Agriculture and Natural Resource Agent in Calhoun County, Florida

Judy Ludlow

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2013/09/27/genetically-modified-gm-crops-straight-talk-on-complex-often-controversial-technologies/