|These are extremely important issues, not only for our health, but also for
conservation and preservation of our environment. Some major concerns
are pesticide use, herbicide use, genetic modification of crops and animals,
erosion, deforestation and wetland preservation.
FOOD AND NUTRITION, PESTICIDES, GM CROPS, ETC.
Farmland in northern
Baltimore County 1995
|GENETICALLY MODIFIED (GM) CROPS
In the USA genetically modified (GM) crops are a part of most of the prepared foods we buy at
grocery stores and restaurants. GM soybeans, corn, tomatoes and other vegetables are
commonplace. Because there are no requirements for labeling GM foods as GM, we often do not
know which are, and which are not GM. Certified Organic on the label is an assurance that the
product is not only grown without artificial fertilizers and pesticides, but is also not genetically
What is GM?
GM or genetic modification is the addition of one or more genes from one organism into another.
This usually involves inserting genes from one species into another species. Genes inserted in
plant or animal can give the recipient one of the characteristics of the donor organism. Some
examples of characteristics that have been transferred from one organism to another are herbicide
resistance and pest insect resistance.
GM vs Selective Breeding
This process is very different from the selective breeding that has historically been used to modify
crops. In selective breeding, organisms of the same species, but with a desired characteristic are
bred. When selective breeding is used, selection increases the frequency of genes that are already
present. With genetic engineering, a gene from another species is inserted into a crop or farm
animal. Another difference is in the placement of the gene in the target (crop or animal) genome.
With genetic engineering it is not usually possible to carefully choose the location of the gene, or
even the number of copies inserted.