Below is the outline for this comprehensive blog project. Please read this entire blog project in order. All comments should be posted on this page (The main GMO blog) and should only be posted after reading the entire blog project. Thanks! I appreciate all of you being here.
- Introduction (Please read first!!!)
- What are GMOs?
- Video: What do GM Crops look like? Are GM Crops “poisonous” or “toxic?”
- What are GMOs not?
- Why do farmers use technologies such as GMOs and herbicides/pesticides?
- My perspective on the safety and sustainability of GMOs
- My perspective as a Christian on GMOs
- Questions and comments from readers answered
- Additional Resources
Hello everyone, my name is Greg Peterson and I am the oldest brother of the Peterson Farm Brothers. You might know us from our parody music videos about farming on YouTube. Most of our videos are entertaining in nature, and stick mainly to all of the positive things that are happening in agriculture today. Today, however, I am going to take some time to discuss one of the most controversial subjects I’ve ever been around, genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. I have spent months pondering and questioning what I believe about this subject of extreme complexity, and I think I am finally ready to start sharing some answers.
Now, stop! Stop! Before anyone starts throwing stones at each other, let’s get a few things straight before we begin:
- As the title of this blog states, I am an advocate for truth. I am writing this blog for one reason and one reason only, to promote the truth about GMOs based on the knowledge that I have gathered in my lifetime. I honestly believe that to my knowledge every piece of information in this blog is true and factual. Truth is my primary motivation. Which brings me to my next point….
- I am not being paid by ANYONE to write this blog. This is of my own free will and is done under my own influence. My only agenda is truth. My parents taught me from a young age to stand for what I believe is the truth, no matter how much resistance or ridicule (I’m certain there will be some) comes my way. I am trying to approach this subject with as little bias as possible besides my own personal background as a conventional farmer. I am concerned only with facts, evidence, and where the truth leads. I am not interested in being pushed around by people with a lot of money, regardless of which side of the debate they are on. Which brings me to my next point….
- I am a 23-year-old family farmer. While I do have quite a bit of experience with the leaders in the agriculture industry from all of my travels as a Peterson Farm Bro, I am not an industry CEO. I am not a corporate businessman trying to earn your money. I am a simply a young person who is searching for answers, just like you. I hope to be the mediator between the leaders in the agricultural industry and the average American consumer. We have to start listening to one another instead of fighting. Discussing instead of arguing. I hope I can be that someone in the middle ground whom you can trust to bring honest, truthful answers. However, I am by no means perfect, and I am fully aware that I may make mistakes throughout this process. Feel free to let me know if I have made a mistake. Which brings me to my next point…..
- Please, please, please try your hardest not to leave hateful, offensive comments about me or about this blog. Civilized human beings should be able to have civilized conversations, even about controversial subjects. Not only that, but civilized human beings should be able to remain friends despite disagreeing on a certain topic. To clarify, even if you disagree with what I have to say about GMOs, we can still be friends! You can still follow the Peterson Farm Bros! Think if you ended every relationship in your life that encountered a conflict of opinion. You would be left with no friends at all! Plus, it is always beneficial to stay friends with people who have different opinions than you. You can learn a lot from them! So let’s keep this conversation friendly, respectful, polite and without any “I hate you. I’m unliking your page!” comments. Thanks!
Alright, so now that we have all of that out of the way we can focus on the matter at hand. Now, some of you may think you know a lot about GMOs. Others may have no idea what I am talking about. There is an abundance of misinformation out there on GMOs, especially on the Internet, and much of it is agenda driven from both sides of the argument. This means it can be heavily skewed one way or the other through methods such as photoshop, video editing, and twisting of words and data. Take everything you read on the Internet (including what I have to say) with a HUGE grain of salt! If you’ve never stepped foot in a field of GM Crops, never talked in person with real GM Crop farmers, or never spoken in person to any sort of GMO experts (from both sides of the argument) you are putting yourself at the risk of being misinformed by agenda driven information.
What I would like for everyone reading this blog to do is to try and put aside everything you’ve heard about GMOs up until this point and try to see if you can keep an open mind on the subject. We are first going to talk about some facts of GMOs. Facts. A.K.A. Truth. A.K.A. information that can be backed up by reliable proof. In other words, I don’t believe that this information can really be argued against.
What are GMOs?
GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, will also be referred to in this blog as GM Food, GM Crops, GM Products, Genetic Engineering, and Biotechnology. Biotechnology in plant agriculture is the process of intentionally making a copy of a gene for a desired trait from one plant or organism and using it in another plant. Humans have been intentionally changing the genetics of crops since the beginning of their existence. In fact, every single fruit, vegetable, and grain that is grown by farmers today has been genetically altered (through hybrids and selective breeding) to produce better taste, yield, or disease/drought/insect resistance. While GMOs are slightly different than hybrids, they are simply the newest form of this type of technology and have been around since the early 1990s.
Comprehensive list of GM Crops
- Corn (88 percent of USA crop)
- Soybeans (93 percent of USA crop)
- Cotton (94 percent of USA crop)
- Canola (90 percent of USA crop)
- Sugar Beets (90 percent of USA crop)
- Papayas (75 percent of USA crop)
Wheat is not a GM crop, but as mentioned previously has been significantly genetically altered since the beginning of human history. If you know a farmer that grows one or more of these crops, there is a very good chance they are a GM crop farmer.
List of GM products
While it is possible (difficult, but possible) to avoid GM foods, it is practically impossible to avoid GM products altogether:
- Food for Human Consumption: GMOs are found in the majority of food products in the grocery store. (Aside from the organic food aisle) Link: List of GM Foods
- Food for Animal Consumption: The majority of U.S. corn, soybeans and alfalfa grown using GMO seed (as mentioned above) are used for livestock feed. Unless the meat is labeled “certified organic,” the chance that the livestock had consumed GM Crops is very high. Livestock by-products also account for thousands of products you use every day. Link: Livestock By-Products
- Other Uses: GM products are used in fuel for your automobiles, fiber for your clothes, medicines, road/building construction materials, printer inks, adhesives, etc. An average person has more than likely consumed GM food or used GM products every single day in the last year.
What do GM crops look like? Are GM crops “poisonous” or “toxic?”
What are GMOs not? (Debunking common myths)
- There have been over 2,000 independent, peer-reviewed studies done on the safety of GM Crops. Link: GMO Safety Study
- There have been over 1 trillion meals consumed containing GM products. Not a single sickness or death has ever occurred due to the ingestion of these products. Link: Trillion Meal Study
Different in Appearance and Nutritional Value to Non-GMO:
- GM Crops are identical to non-GM Crops in appearance as well as nutritional value. When compared next to each other, there is literally no difference in physical makeup or nutrition.
Only produced by Monsanto
- There are hundreds of seed companies that a farm family like mine can purchase GM seeds from. While Monsanto is the largest of all of these companies, by no means do they have a monopoly on the market. Farmers have absolute freedom of choice in the company they buy their seed from. GMOs ≠ Monsanto.
- FYI, A full blog on my opinion of the Monsanto Company will be coming soon. But let’s leave Monsanto out of the conversation for now and focus strictly on GMOs. (Yes, it is possible to have a conversation about one without the other)
Banned in other countries
- While certain countries have banned the production of GM Crops, most countries (Including the EU) at the very least allow imported goods to contain GM products. The reason GM Crop production has been banned in certain countries is not due to safety concerns, but rather because of negative public perceptions and emotions.
Owned by the seed company while in production
- I have never met a farmer who feels like they or their crops are “owned” by a GMO seed company. Seed companies do require “stewardship agreements” of farmers to make sure they are not stealing a product the seed company spent millions of dollars to research and produce. In other words, farmers are not allowed to reuse their GMO seeds, but they do own the crops from the purchase of the seed to the sale of the grain. Check out this great blog from a fellow farmer, Brian Scott: My Family Farm Is Not Under Corporate Control
Causing farmers to commit suicide
- This was a widely publicized rumor about farmers in India who were growing GM Crops and is simply not correct. Read more here: India Farmer Myth
- This was a widely publicized study that claimed rats developed tumors after digesting GMO corn. The study was funded by an anti-GMO organization, was heavily criticized by the scientific community, and was eventually retracted. Read more here: Retracted GMO Study
Pesticide (chemical) Producing
- The term “pesticide” simply means to get rid of insects and pests. It does not mean that a GM crop contains or produces synthetic chemicals. Take Bt corn for instance. Bt corn produces a protein called Bt. The Bt protein is toxic to bugs, because bugs cannot digest it, so they die. Humans, as well as livestock, can digest Bt proteins, so they do not die (or get sick). So no, you are not eating synthetic chemicals when you eat GMOs, and neither are livestock!
Increasing pesticide/herbicide use
- GMOs are not responsible for the sudden rise of pesticides and herbicides, but rather the decline in usage since the initial rise. (See section below: Why do farmers use GM Crops?)
Why do farmers use technologies such as GMOs and herbicides/pesticides?
Please click here to read the full blog: Why do farmers use technologies such as GMOs and herbicides/pesticides?
My family chooses to grow GM crops because they are the best option for our farm. We also practice no-till and use pesticides and herbicides because it is the best option for our farm. As you saw in the video, we eat our own crops, therefore we believe they are safe. With all of the benefits listed in the “Why do farmers use technologies” blog, and our belief in their safety and reliability, it simply makes sense for us to grow them. Are certain technologies like GMOs for every farmer? No, every situation calls for something different. Are they the ultimate solution to a farmer’s problems? No, but farmers are always looking for better ways to grow food. Are they perfect? Of course not. (More on the subject of imperfection here: My Perspective as a Christian on GM Crops). However, GMOs, no-till farming and herbicides/pesticides are valuable technologies that are available to farmers. They are tools in a farmer’s toolbox. A farmer should have the freedom to use these tools, unless the tool is a threat to the survival of humans or the survival of the environment. Which brings me to my final 2 blog posts:
My perspective on the safety and sustainability of GM Crops (Opinion based on fact)
Please click here to read the whole thing: My perspective on the safety and sustainability of GM Crops
My perspective as a Christian on GMOs (Opinion based on fact)
Please click here to read the full blog: My perspective as a Christian on GMOs
Questions and Comments From Readers Answered
What is your opinion on labeling of GMOs?
Labeling of GM Products is so much more complex than people may realize. As mentioned in the “What are GMOs?” section of this blog, GMOs are found in so many products that labeling each and every one of them would be a costly (See: Cost of Labeling) and somewhat ridiculous decision. Especially considering there is no nutritional difference between Non-GMO and GMO. The only difference between the two is the methods used to produce them. The thing to remember is that labeling is desired almost exclusively by consumers who don’t want to buy GM products. It is a niche market. It wouldn’t make sense to label everything when only a small percentage of the population cares, especially when there is no proven danger. I believe that instead of labeling all GM products, we should instead label all the products that are GMO-free, giving people who want this choice the option to choose it. This would provide a compromise between anti-GMO agendas (get rid of all GM products) and pro-GMO agendas (no need to eat non-GMO). The cool thing is that this is already happening in most grocery stores!