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Bioengineering Fact Sheet

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Provided messaging and copy for science-based fact sheet about GMOs and gene-edited foods.

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Bioengineering Fact Sheet

  1. 1. UNDERSTANDING AND EXPLAINING THE BASICS OF GMOS AND BIOENGINEERING Bioengineering provides us with safe and affordable food Bioengineering is a broad term for technologies used to improve organisms, in this case food. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) aren’t the only way to create food that’s better for the environment and farmers, while still safe for consumers.2 New advances in bioengineering include gene editing, which is different from GMOs but has similar benefits.3 GMOs2 Scientists can modify plant genes by introducing desirable traits and DNA from other plant varieties. New traits are identified in nature, such as resistance to certain pests, and inserted into another seed. Farmers have been doing this for thousands of years through crossbreeding. Unlike crossbreeding, genetic modification is quicker and more accurate, ensuring only the desired gene is inserted. Gene editing3 Scientists can edit genes that already exist in a plant without introducing any new DNA. Gene-editing can create foods that grow better and provide additional health benefits. The most promising gene editing tool is a DNA sequence found in nature called CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats). CRISPR’s built-in DNA-snipping and genetic GPS first locates the desired trait in the plant’s DNA, and then it cuts the DNA so it can insert the new trait. SOYBEANS ALFALFA (animal feed) RAINBOW PAPAYA ARCTIC APPLES GOLDEN RICE® Understanding what is currently a GMO5 There are currently no gene edited foods on store shelves. UNDERSTANDING AND EXPLAINING THE BASICS OF GMOS AND BIOENGINEERING Bioengineering provides us with safe and affordable food Bioengineering is a broad term for technologies used to improve organisms, in this case food. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) aren’t the only way to create food that’s better for the environment and farmers, while still safe for consumers.2 New advances in bioengineering include gene editing, which is different from GMOs but has similar benefits.3 GMOs2 Scientists can modify plant genes by introducing desirable traits and DNA from other plant varieties. New traits are identified in nature, such as resistance to certain pests, and inserted into another seed. Farmers have been doing this for thousands of years through crossbreeding. Unlike crossbreeding, genetic modification is quicker and more accurate, ensuring only the desired gene is inserted. Gene editing3 Scientists can edit genes that already exist in a plant without introducing any new DNA. Gene-editing can create foods that grow better and provide additional health benefits. The most promising gene editing tool is a DNA sequence found in nature called CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats). CRISPR’s built-in DNA-snipping and genetic GPS first locates the desired trait in the plant’s DNA, and then it cuts the DNA so it can insert the new trait DNA. CORN CORN CORN CORN CORN CORN CORN CORN CORN CORN CORN Understanding what is currently a GMO5 CORN (field and sweet) SUGAR BEETS CANOLA POTATOES (Ranger Russet, Atlantic) SQUASH (select varieties) COTTON watchusgrow.org
  2. 2. References: 1. National Institutes of Health: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/tsd/acquisitions/cdm/subjects10.html | 2. World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/foodsafety/areas_work/food-technology/faq-genetically-modified-food/en/ | 3. Harvard University: http://sitn.hms. harvard.edu/flash/2014/crispr-a-game-changing-genetic-engineering-technique/ | 4. National Institutes of Health, Genetics Home Reference: https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/basics/dna | 5. International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications: http://www.isaaa.org/gmapprovaldatabase/cropslist/default.asp | 6. Nature Research Journal: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-21284-2 | 7. Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anai.2017.07.010 | 8. American Council on Science and Health: https://www.acsh.org/news/2014/11/06/meta-analysis-shows-gm-crops-reduce-pesticide-use-37-percent | 9. United States Department of Agriculture: https://www.usda.gov/topics/biotechnology/how-federal-government-regu- lates-biotech-plants | 10. Food Dialogues: http://www.fooddialogues.com/article/benefits-gmos-today-future/ | 11. Scientific American: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/the-future-of-gmo-food/ Everyone has to eat. Farmers, scientists and regulators value food safety just as much as you do. Bioengineered foods pose the same risks as any other food.6 Government agencies continue to provide regulation and oversight. Science confirms safety Is there industry bias?Are there long-term studies? Do they cause allergies? Do they increase pesticide usage and ecological damage? GMOs have been proven safe by both independent and industry studies.6 There have been many multigenerational studies (20+ years) confirming that GMOs are safe.6 Research demonstrates that because GMOs only use existing DNA, they don’t create any new allergens.7 GMOs decreased overall pesticide use by 37 percent.8 The USDA continues to monitor ecological effects of GMOs.9 Clearing the air on GMO misconceptions GMOs Gene Editing Hundreds of scientific institutions, including the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association, and more than 3,000 studies have confirmed that GMOs are safe.6 Gene editing doesn’t introduce any new DNA, so there is no change in the safety of the plant.3 Bioengineered crops are creating solutions10 Food waste: Food that lasts longer won’t be thrown away as quickly or as often, reducing wasted food. Disease and insect resistance: Plants fight pests themselves, eliminating the need for additional insecticides and fungicides. Herbicide resistance: Plants tolerate herbicides, allowing fewer applications and the use of safer herbicides on crops. Drought tolerance: Plants retain more moisture, using less water and growing in dry climates, increasing access to food. Nutritional content: Crops enhanced with nutrition can improve the quality of life for people in developing nations. Improved processes: Varieties can be easier to refine and process, reducing the need for water, land and energy used in production. More benefits are on the horizon: Science is currently developing GMOs and gene edited foods that will have even more benefits for consumers, including an allergen- free peanut and healthier soybean oil.11

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