Genetically Modified Foods: Perceptions and Realities. Steven Triano, Ph.D. Hartnell College, Agriculture (831)

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1 Genetically Modified Foods: Perceptions and Realities Steven Triano, Ph.D. Hartnell College, Agriculture (831)

2 GMO Crops

3 What Are GMO Crops? GMOs (or GM Crops) are Genetically Modified Organisms A piece of DNA has been added, removed, or modified to change some trait of the plant.

4 GMO Development GMO Insertion Mutation

5 What Is Unique about GMOs? The modified gene has been added, removed, or modified on purpose using a specific set of laboratory techniques. A GMO is generally a single-gene change compared to traditional plant breeding which involves dozens or even thousands of genes.

6 What Is Plant Breeding? For over 10,000 years of human agriculture, traditional breeding was largely pick the winner. Select seed from the biggest, best tasting Plant seeds from the winners next time. Repeat! Yields and quality improved gradually.

7 What Is Plant Breeding? Cross breeding began in the 1700s Modern breeding techniques were developed in the 20 th century hybrids!

8 What Is Plant Breeding? Cross breeding began in the 1700s Modern breeding techniques were developed in the 20 th century hybrids! Hybrid plants are created by mixing the genes (controlled pollinations) of desirable male and female plants that were different.

9 What Is Plant Breeding? Cross breeding began in the 1700s Modern breeding techniques were developed in the 20 th century hybrids! Hybrid plants are created by mixing the genes (controlled pollinations) of desirable male and female plants that were different. Breeding techniques exploded while farm machinery became commonplace.

10 What Is Plant Breeding? Cross breeding began in the 1700s Modern breeding techniques were developed in the 20 th century hybrids! Hybrid plants are created by mixing the genes (controlled pollinations) of desirable male and female plants that were different. Breeding techniques exploded while farm machinery became commonplace. Yields and quality increased dramatically!

11 What Is Plant Breeding? Not everyone was happy with cross breeding and hybrids. There may be unanticipated results

12 What Is Plant Breeding? Not everyone was happy with cross breeding and hybrids. There may be unanticipated results Something unsafe may accidentally be introduced into the food supply

13 What Is Plant Breeding? Not everyone was happy with cross breeding and hybrids. There may be unanticipated results Something unsafe may accidentally be introduced into the food supply Hybrids violate religious beliefs

14 What Is Plant Breeding? Not everyone was happy with cross breeding and hybrids. There may be unanticipated results Something unsafe may accidentally be introduced into the food supply Hybrids violate religious beliefs Scientists are playing God!

15 What ELSE Is Plant Breeding? Breeding with wild, weedy species

16 What ELSE Is Plant Breeding? Breeding with wild, weedy species Embryo rescue techniques in the lab

17 What ELSE Is Plant Breeding? Breeding with wild, weedy species Embryo rescue techniques in the lab Intentional mutation of genes (genetic roulette) Treatment of seeds with X-ray or gamma-ray Treatment of seeds with carcinogens Inducing polyploidy (doubling the chromosomes)

18 What Is Biotechnology? Biotechnology is a large set of scientific techniques: Pharmaceutical production Disease treatments Genetic disorders Cloning GMO Crops Much, much more

19 What Is Biotechnology? GMOs are a small subset of biotechnology

20 What Is Biotechnology? GMOs are a small subset of biotechnology GMOs are being singled out

21 GMO Fears Pharmaceuticals in Food Pesticides in Food Political Power and Capitalistic Corruption Mixing Species or Playing God Contaminating Crops

22 Other GMO Fears Are these foods safe for my kids?

23 Other GMO Fears Are they safe for the environment?

24 Other GMO Fears Do we really know what we are doing?

25 Other GMO Fears Allergens may be created Antibiotic resistant bacteria may form in our stomachs It s not organic Economic control of a crop (or country) Patenting genetic codes Lawsuits for accidental pollinations Environmental disasters

26 GMO Realities Food allergens are well documented Antibiotics are not used in GMO Crops GMOs have reduced pesticide usage (379 million pounds from ) Massive regulatory hurdles and testing (No formal testing for crops produced by mutagenesis) Once created, GMOs are fully fertile and maintained though traditional breeding No links to any disease in humans

27 GMO Realities ü GMOs are already here ü GMOs are safe ü May be safer than breeding

28

29 GMO Crops in the USA (8) Alfalfa and sugar beets are also now grown in the US.

30 GMO Crops in the USA (8)

31 GMO Crops in the USA (8)

32 Problems with GMO Acceptance Political Agendas (Misinformation) Organics and Health Foods Industries Environmentalists (esp. in Europe) Misrepresenting Legitimate Concerns Allergens Cross Pollination Antibiotics GMO pesticides and the environment Super Weeds or Super Bugs

33 Problems with GMO Acceptance Consumer Acceptance Very minor issue in the US More of an issue in fresh fruits and vegetables Economic Acceptance HUGE issue in the US Relatively few buyers control the fresh foods Buyers generally accept that GM foods are safe, but fear being targets of activists Making No GMO part of Organic

34 Problems with GMO Acceptance In my humble opinion: GMOs are targeted as a group The techniques are on trial rather than the products of those techniques Bait and switch arguments are used to spread fear about GMO techniques Bread causes crime! Poor science literacy is a fundamental problem that we must address

35 Benefits of GMOs Disease Resistance Bt Corn (Was this a good thing?) Virus resistant Papaya and Squash Herbicide Resistant crops Roundup Ready Nutrition Golden Rice

36 Benefits of GMOs Shelf Life and Food Safety Flavr-Savr Tomato fiasco Competitive bacterial flora Adaptation Tolerance to heat, frost, drought, salt... Ice-Minus bacteria Economics Developing Nations Variety Control (Monsanto s Terminator Gene)

37 Bottom Line General acceptance in fresh foods will require time, education and compelling traits Public awareness must catch up with science Scientists must become better communicators As traits are developed IN SUPERIOR VARIETIES, the financial reward will eventually outweigh the political risk. Risks are known and being addressed

38 Genetically Modified Foods: Perceptions and Realities Steven Triano, Ph.D. Hartnell College, Agriculture (831)

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