In celebration of Earth Day, GMO Answers, an initiative committed to responding to consumer questions about how their food is grown, calls for public acceptance of the environmental benefits of genetically modified organisms.
“At GMO Answers, we strive to ensure that facts about GMOs are easily accessible so that consumers can make informed decisions about the food they eat. GMO crops are created through genetic engineering, which allows plant breeders to take a desirable trait found in nature and transfer it from one organism to the plant they want to improve. Some examples of desirable traits include resistance to insects and disease and tolerance to herbicides that allow farmers to better control weeds.
“Not only have GMOs been shown safe to eat, but they also have a critical role to play in preserving the environment, while allowing us to grow the food we need to feed the world’s growing population.
“Yet, GMOs are not being utilized to their full potential. Negative public perceptions – rooted in fear and misinformation – are keeping us from realizing broader and more impactful environmental change. Earth Day unites the world under a common mission: protect our planet. If we truly want to unite in the fight against climate change, it’s imperative we achieve public acceptance of GMOs once and for all.”
Some examples of the environmental benefits of GMOs:
- GMOs help farmers grow more crops using less land. In 2016 alone, GMOs enabled farmers to use 48.2 million less acres of land to produce the same amount of crops – equivalent to nearly four times the size of America’s largest national park, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, and Reserve.
- GMOs help reduce food waste. Genetically modified apples are non-browning, and genetically modified potatoes are less prone to bruising and black spots eliminating those superficial issues that cause people to unnecessarily throw them away.
- GMOs help reduce CO2 emissions. In 2016 alone, growing GMO crops helped decrease CO2 emissions equivalent to taking 16.7 million cars off the road for an entire year.
- GMOs help reduce pesticide application and increase outputs. Over the last 20 years, GMOs have decreased the environmental impact associated with herbicide and insecticide use [as measured by the indicator, the Environmental Impact Quotient by 18.4% and helped increase crop yields by 22%.