Genetically Modified Organisms


Q: Why are some foods genetically modified?

Karol: GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, were developed to solve a particular problem. For example, the Arctic Apple and the Innate potato do not brown. These GMOs are helping to solve the problem of food waste.

There are 10 GMO crops on the market. Modifications have been made for the following:

Herbicide resistance

in corn, soybeans, alfalfa, cotton and canola.

Fungal resistance

in papaya, squash and sugar beets.

Insect resistance

in corn and cotton.

Food waste

lengthens the shelf life of apples and potatoes, reducing spoilage.

Drought resistance

is also one purpose for genetic modification.

Why is agriculture important? Everyone eats. Truth be known, it is part of our very soul.

Karol Swan
York, Neb.
Karol Swan, York, Neb.

Q: Can animals be genetically modified?

Karol: The only genetically modified meat is salmon. Traditional cross-breeding and selection for desirable traits is still used in plant and livestock breeding programs, but genetic engineering allows us to solve problems such as food waste quicker. In the case of salmon, genetic engineering has enabled us to raise more food faster.

Q: Are GMOs dangerous?

Karol: A huge misconception about GMOs is that they can be harmful to human health and safety. The truth is, GMOs have been around for 25 years and there hasn’t been a substantiated case of harm to human health as a result of genetically modified ingredients.

It takes an average of 13 years to develop and bring a new GMO crop to the market, because organizations such as the USDA, FDA and EPA conduct years of testing before genetically modified products are allowed for human or animal consumption.

In every crop, farmers must control insects, weeds and fungal damage. The resistance to these yield-decreasing pests developed in GMO crops has translated to a HUGE decrease in the use of chemical pesticides. In fact, insecticide use in some crops is virtually obsolete, and herbicide use has been cut dramatically.

Gene editing tools such as CRISPR act like a pair of molecular scissors — allowing breeders to edit or delete specific pieces of a DNA strand in order to create plants that, for example, require less water or fertilizer to produce.

Related Articles

Browse by Category

Recent Articles


CornsTalk is a newsletter produced by the Nebraska Corn Board that covers important subjects and provides regular updates on various programs of interest to corn growers and others.