Biotechnology and Farming

Hamburg/Pinnebog, MI(Zone 6a)

I thought you would all like to look at some Q & A on Bio & Farming and also maybe it will help those here that do not fully understand what we talk about at times. See if you agree with what is being put out.

Biotechnology FAQ Scientists at the American Feed Industry Association put this list together to address current questions.
What is biotechnology? Biotechnology is the use of living organisms or biological techniques to make new products such as bread, cheese, wine and beer, which has occurred for centuries. Modern biotechnology or genetic engineering involves the transfer of DNA from one living organism to another.
Do consumers benefit? Yes. Consumers will likely see higher quality and greater availability of food products. Improvements include iron- and vitamin A-enriched rice and canola oil, firmer apples, sweeter bananas, lower-cholesterol eggs and milk with "good" fats, as well as low saturated fat and higher performance cooking oils.
Do biotechnology benefits outweigh potential risks? Products on the market today--following rigorous scientific and government review--demonstrate almost no risk to consumers. The so-called potential risks of biotechnology are generally speculative. Foods derived from biotechnology are as safe, if not safer, than traditional foods.
Will biotechnology have an adverse environmental impact? Based on reviews by USDA and EPA, there is no reason to believe biotech plants will negatively affect the environment.
Isn't biotechnology disrupting nature's balance? For more than 200 years man has been enhancing the genetics of plants and animals by selectively cross-breeding for the best traits.
Are there sufficient long-term tests to see how safe biotech ingredients are? Yes. Hundreds of field tests have been performed routinely, some lasting years, and there is continuous monitoring of the crops, food and environment to determine any unforeseen concerns.
What government agencies regulate biotechnology? FDA regulates the food and feed uses of biotech-developed plants. USDA's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regulates the environmental impact of crop and grain production. EPA regulates the plant-expressed protectants, cross pollination and crop protection aspects.
Where can I get reliable information about biotechnology? The federal government's policies can be found at,, The life science seed companies developing these products provide information on the science behind their products, or you can contact your county extension agent or land-grant university for more information. Many trade associations also provide information like the International
Food Information Council; Biotechnology Industry Organization; and National food Processors Association. What does the rest of the world think of biotechnology? By the end of 1999, the European Union (EU) had approved four corn varieties, one soybean variety and three canola varieties. There is now a moratorium on approvals, primarily for political reasons. EU scientists agree with U.S. regulators that biotech products are safe. Canada has approved 53 all-plant varieties; Japan, 31. In the United States, there are 16 corn varieties, 11 soybean varieties, six canola varieties, 17 potato varieties, five cotton varieties and two beet varieties. Globally, there are more than a dozen countries with regulations in place and many others where these products can be sold (imported) without formal regulations.
Won't new human allergies develop as crops and ingredients are changed? The likelihood is low. In fact, studies show there's as much likelihood of any allergic reaction to a GM plant as there is to a conventional plant. Testing for allergenicity is included in the safety studies prior to offering the product.
Why not ban GMs? To arbitrarily ban a new technology makes no sense. Everyone loses. That attitude stifles innovation and research. Three federal agencies agree these GM products and co-products are safe. The federal government does not regulate products based on theoretical risk.
Is biotechnology safe for humans and animals? Yes. Three independent government agencies--FDA, USDA and EPA--(in an integrated regulatory framework) reviewed the science behind all biotech products in the marketplace. They are confident biotech products and co-products, such as corn oil and corn sweetener, are safe for both humans and animals.
Is it true that genetically altered corn killed monarch butterflies? If so, will it harm my children or me? Scientists and government regulators are confident in the safety of biotech products. Recent scientific studies show pollen from biotech grains is not any more likely to cause harm to butterflies than pollen from non-biotech corn. Won't pollen from biotech crops contaminate other plants? According to EPA, this issue has been addressed by farmer agreements to build buffers around their fields and agreements to limit plantings until more is known about the likelihood of this particular situation. Studies also show pollen will only survive a short time in soils and is dependent on wind velocity, etc. Thus, the chance of inadvertent cross-pollination is lowered.
How can a biotech ingredient be called a natural food when it isn't natural? FDA does not define "natural" for food products, except for pet food. USDA has a definition of "natural" for meat, but none for fruits, grains and vegetables. USDA has announced GM products will be excluded in the definition of "organic" products.
Why are Europeans against biotech products? European concerns are basically activist driven. Recent food safety scares have heightened consumer skepticism. When FDA, USDA and EPA were asked if additional regulatory safeguards are needed, each agency told a Senate committee "no." Currently, most genetically engineered crops directly impact farm economics.
What crops are planned to directly benefit consumers? Direct consumer benefits are admittedly limited today, but in the future, life-science seed companies envision varieties of fruits and vegetables that will have longer shelf life, more or different flavors, more important nutrients (like iron, vitamins, calcium), or nutrients impacting quality of life (trans-fatty acids, better fat balances). Some foods may even deliver vaccines or medicines.
Why is it taking so long to develop and market foods with consumer benefits? Farmers are the primary customers of these companies, so they were first asked what traits they needed in their crops and which varieties they would plant. This is the first generation of biotechnology crops. Many of the next generation of biotech crops will have traits benefiting consumers.
Are activists and the media overreacting to the biotech issue? A small and vocal group of activists are raising the most concern--most of it speculative. According to surveys done in the United States, most of the public is either unaware or unconcerned by these issues. In Europe, a survey of 16,000 adults found biotechnology near the bottom on their list of environmental concerns. The overwhelming majority of the scientific community supports biotechnology and the safe use of these products in our food. The media needs to be educated to be able to report accurately and objectively on the benefits, promises and limits of biotechnology.

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