GMO Basics

**This is the first in a series on GMO food. I will discuss in later posts why GMO’s are bad for our health and the planet’s health, how to avoid GMO food, where to get GMO-free seeds, and why GMO’s should be labeled.

Definition: A genetically modified organism (GMO) or genetically engineered organism (GEO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. These techniques, generally known as recombinant DNA technology, use DNA molecules from different sources, which are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is then transferred into an organism, giving it modified or novel genes. (From Wikipedia)


  • These plants have been modified in the laboratory to enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides,drought tolerance, disease resistance etc
  • In 2000, genetically engineered crops constituted about 55% of soybeans, corn and cotton grown in the United States, today that number is more than 85%.
  • The FDA has also approved production of GM varieties (including the ones above) of plums, cantaloupe, papaya, squash, radicchio, tomatoes, sugar beets, apples, and potatoes to be sold in supermarkets.
  • The main crops, soybeans and corn, are in hundreds of foods, from vegetable oils and high-fructose corn syrup to supplements and food additives.
  • GM applies not only to produce, but to salmon and patents on specific breeds of pigs, rice, canola, etc
  • Many GE crops are used in livestock feed such as chickens and cows. (meat and dairy)
  • GM seeds are patented.  Farmers cannot harvest and save them.  Farmers must buy new patented seeds every year.  And since one company – Monsanto – owns most of the patents, it gets to set the price.

What have you heard?