gmo friend or foe? genetically modified organisms

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  • GMO
    Friend or Foe?

    Genetically Modified Organisms

  • What are genetically modified foods?

    Also called genetically modified organisms (GMO), or GE foods (Genetically engineered).Created by inserting DNA from one organism into another (I.e. fish genes into apples) OR modifying an organisms DNA to attain a desirable trait. (I.e. a tomato with reversed DNA to slow down ripening).
  • Examples of GMOs

    In 1994, the Flavr Savr tomato was introduced as the first GM food. It is supposed to betastier, firmer and fresher than the average tomato.Golden rice enriched rice containing beta-carotene (Vitamin A). This vitamin is not found in normal rice.Bt corn corn containing a chemical normally found in bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis). This is toxic to insects, not humans. Insects try to eat the plant and die.Herbicide resistant plants (roundup ready corn). These plants are immune to a certain herbicide, so they live while all the other plants in the field are killed.
  • GMO foodsare common

    According to Greenpeace, up to 70% of processed foods in Canada contain GM ingredients. Most common are corn, soy, canola and cotton.

  • What is grown globally?

    In 2001 the area of genetically modified crops grown globally was 52.6 million hectares. That is an area the size of France or Spain. This includes food and non-food crops (I.e.cotton)4 countries produced 99% of the world's genetically modified crops. These are:USA (68%) Argentina (22%) Canada (6%) China (3%) More than 80% of canola grown in Canada and a high proportion of the countrys soybean and corn crops are genetically modified.
  • GM foods in Canada

    Health Canada groups GM foods into a category called Novel Foods.

    Foods resulting from a process not previously used for food; Products that have never been used as a food; or Foods that have been modified by genetic manipulation, also known as genetically modified (GM) foods, genetically engineered foods or biotechnology-derived foods

    70 novel

    foods have



    for sale

    in Canada.









    Are all examples!!

    These crops are processed into the goods in grocery stores.

    Fries, cakes, oils, sugars, saucesAnimals that feed on GMOs

    And more all without mandatory labeling.

  • Benefits #1

    Increased crop productivity This includes herbicide tolerance, pest and disease resistanceE.g. Roundup ready crops, and BT corn.Could mean using less spray
  • Benefits #2

    Cold tolerance plants developed to tolerate cold temperatures & withstand unexpected frost could destroy seedlings Drought & salinity tolerancecurrently inhospitable regions can now be cultivated
  • Benefits #3

    Improved nutrition crops like rice are a staple in developing countries nutritionally inadequate!GM "golden rice" is high in beta-carotene (vitamin A)Reduces eye-related problems like blindness due to malnutrition
  • Benefits #4

    Phytoremediation (f't-r-m'd-'shn) plants like poplar trees clean up the heavy metal soil contaminationGM plants with higher tolerance for heavy metals like mercury.
  • Benefits #5

    Future benefits might include: food without allergens; (I.e. anyone could eat nuts)grains, fruit & vegetables with improved nutrition (multi-vitamin potatoes=healthy fast food french fries!)longer shelf life and better taste (reduced food waste due to spoilage)rice enhanced with iron (prevent anemia)foods used as vaccines (bye-bye needles)Many more possibilities
  • Challenges #1

    Environmental possibility of unintended harm to other organisms: potential risk of harm to non-target organisms, e.g. a pest resistant crop that produces toxins that may harm both crop-damaging and non crop-damaging insects E.g. The pollen of BT corn on milkweed is thought to affect (slow or kill) the larvae of Monarch butterflies. Further studies are underway.
  • Challenges #2

    pesticides become less effective as pests become resistant to modified crops.Different varieties and strengths of pesticides will be needed once weeds have adapted to the existing effective pesticides.
  • Challenges #3

    Superweedsgene transfer to non-target species where herbicide tolerant plants crossbreed with weeds potentially creating herbicide resistant weeds.Some Western Canadian farmers are calling Monsantos round-up ready canola a superweed.
  • Challenges #4

    Human health risksintroducing a gene into a plant may create a new allergen or cause an allergic reaction in susceptible individualsFor example, inserting genes from a nut into another plant could be dangerous for people who are allergic to nuts
  • Challenges #5

    Economic HazardsElimination of competitionGM seeds are patented (must buy each year)This presents problems for poor farmers in both the developed and developing worlds.Large companies like Monsanto have resorted to suing small farmers found to be using their seed without paying.Suicide seedsPlants with sterile seeds that are infertile are createdFarmers are forced to buy seeds every yearHowever, some companies have reduced costs or donated GM seeds to impoverished nations.
  • Impacts of Genetic Modification

    1.4 billion farmers in developed countries depend on saved seeds and seed exchanges (50% of crops)1998 Monsanto sued 100 US soybean growers and hired Pinkerton agents to track down seed saversPineland Seed Company was granted patent in 1998 for terminator technologyseeds do not germinate if planted for second time
  • About the previous picture..

    Greenpeace activists have created a 61-metre crop circle in a corn field in Abbotsford, British Columbia. The field contains Monsantos NK603 genetically engineered (GE) corn, which scientists recently linked with liver and kidney toxicity in rats. Greenpeace is calling for mandatory labelling of GE foods across Canada.Canada grows over 5.8 million hectares of GE crops, including 820,000 hectares of GE corn. Thats an area of GE crops more than twice the size of Vancouver Island. We are one of the top producers of GE worldwide along with USA, Argentina, and Brazil. Forty countries around the world already have mandatory GE labelling in place.
  • What we know now

    What do you know about GM Foods? Take an online test by clicking on the link below and determine your GMF smarts!

    GM Foods Test

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