What Growers Need to Understand About GMOs


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What Growers Need to Understand About GMOs

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What Growers Need to Understand About GMOs

  1. 1. Beth K. Gugino Dept. of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology What Growers Need to Understand about GMO’s and How Others Perceive Them Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention 30 Jan 2013 Lee Stivers, Penn State Extension
  2. 2. What is a genetically modified organism? What is a gene?  Segment of DNA located on a chromosome  Codes for structure of a protein or RNA sequence  Fundamental molecular unit of heredity of a living organism Chromosome DNA Gene
  3. 3. What is a genetically modified organism?
  4. 4. What is a genetically modified organism? Vector stack: gene of interest + promotor + gene marker (allows for screening) Event: successful transformation (determined using the gene marker)
  5. 5. What is a genetically modified organism? Types of GMO’s  Herbicide resistance (Roundup Ready)  Insect resistance (Bt)  Disease resistance (Papaya ringspot virus – coat protein of virus expressed by plant)  Improved nutrition (Golden rice w/ beta carotene – Vitamin A deficiency) Irri.org
  6. 6. A Brief History of GMO’s GMO Timeline 1972: First recombinant DNA molecules produced 1977: Genentech used recombinant DNA to make insulin (replicate on an E. coli plasmid) 1980: US Supreme Court ruled genetically altered life forms can be patented 1987: First outdoor field test of GMO, “Frostban” bacteria (overload leaf surface with GMO bacteria, reduce temp frost forms, never marketed)
  7. 7. A Brief History of GMO’s 1992: USDA approved commercial production of “FlavrSavr” tomatoes (RNAi silencing of polygalacturonase gene that breaks down pectin in cell walls) 1996: Monsanto introduces Roundup Ready soybeans 1987: National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine concludes that GMOs pose risks similar to other domesticated crops. 1987: National Academy of Science concluded transferring genes between species poses no serious environmental hazard
  8. 8. Global Area of GMO Crops, 2010 Rank Country Area (mill A) Crops 1 USA 165 Corn, soybean, cotton, canola, sugarbeet, alfalfa, papaya, squash 2 Brazil 62 Soybean, corn, cotton 3 Argentina 56 Soybean, corn, cotton 4 India 23 Cotton 5 Canada 21 Canola, corn soybean, sugarbeet 6 China 8 Cotton, papaya, poplar, tomato, sweet pepper 7 Paraguay 6 Soybean 8 Pakistan 5 Cotton 9 South Africa 5 Corn, soybean, cotton 10 Uruguay 2 Soybean, corn 11 Bolivia 2 Soybean 12 Australia 1 Cotton, canola
  9. 9. GMOs Today are found in 80% of packaged foods in the US GMO crops are also added to processed foods as oils, sweeteners & soy proteins and in things like amino acids, aspartame, vitamin C, flavorings (natural & artificial), maltodextrins and more 93% 93% 86% 90%
  10. 10. Attitudes  Growers  Consumers  Environmentalists  Seed/Product Companies  Food Industry
  11. 11. Attitudes of Growers Pro:  Helps me grow better crops with fewer pesticides  Enables adoption of no- and low-till practices  Genetically engineered papaya saved an industry Con:  Will insects become resistant to Bt?  Threatens my organic crop/certification  Threats due to consolidation of seed industry  My customers don’t want it (not marketable)
  12. 12. Attitudes of Consumers Pro: (silence) Con:  Potential health risks to me  I don’t trust GMO’s  Don’t trust the science; don’t trust the regulators  I don’t like the companies that make and control them; why won’t they label them?  Unethical business tactics  Consolidation of power, $, ownership of genetic resources
  13. 13. Attitudes of Environmentalists Pro: Con:  Frankenfoods Risk to the environment  Monarch butterflies (slowed growth?, less milkweed)  Loss of genetic diversity (more monoculture)  Genes will escape into the environment and create problems  Limiting ag footprint (higher yield)  Reduced risk to environment (fewer pesticides)  Area-wide pest control (reduced corn borer in pepper)
  14. 14. Attitudes of Seed/Product Companies Pro: Con:  Companies not using GMO technology at a disadvantage?  Bullying practices of GMO companies?  Have to control the product to make money  Costs a lot to develop and test these  But we might give some away for developing countries
  15. 15. Attitudes of Food Industry, US and Foreign Pro: (silence, but they are fighting labeling) Con:  Too little benefit to us compared to risk  If foreign markets reject GMOs, product separation is expensive and probably impossible
  16. 16. What’s in the Future? New Developments  Genomics: shifting focus from single genes to entire genome  DNA shuffling: a technique for creating a better version of a gene that already exists by producing a large number of variants in a test tube  Pharming: turning plants into pharmaceutical factories PSU: Vaccines produced by button mushrooms (3 mil. doses in 12 wks)
  17. 17. Some Sources and Further Reading “Lords of the Harvest: Biotech, Big Money and the Future of Food.” 2001. D. Charles. Perseus Publishing. “Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food.” 2008. P.C. Ronald and R.W. Adamchak. Oxford University Press. “Mendel in the Kitchen: A Scientist’s View of Genetically Modified Food.” 2004. N. Federoff and N.M. Brown. National Academy Press.