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Oklahoma Agriculture in the Classroom

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Agricultural Facts

Biotechnology


Biotechnology
  • Almost everywhere food is sold, you are likely to find products claiming to contain no genetically modified substances, but unless you are buying wild mushrooms, game, berries or fish, that statement is untrue. Nearly every food we eat has been genetically modified, through centuries of crosses, both within and between species. The claims of no genetic modification really refer to foods that contain no ingredients that are produced through the highly refined technique of gene splicing, in which one or a few genes are transferred to an organism.
  • Americans have consumed more than a trillion servings of foods that contain gene-spliced ingredients, and there hasn't been a single untoward event documented, not a single ecosystem disrupted or person made ill. That is not something that can be said about conventional foods, where imprecise methods of genetic modification have caused illnesses. (Dr. Henry I. Miller, Hoover Institution fellow and author of The Frankenfood Myth.)
  • In a telephone survey of 1,200 Americans released in October, 2004, by the Food Policy Institute at Rutgers University, 43 percent thought, incorrectly, that ordinary tomatoes did not contain genes, while genetically modified tomatoes did. One-third thought, again incorrectly, that eating genetically modified fruit would change their own genes.
  • In 2001, US farmers grew 88 million acres of genetically engineered crops, mostly soybean, corn and cotton. Farmers liked the genetically engineered soybean and cotton varieties so much that they planted them on 70 percent of each crop's acreage.
  • Other genetically engineered crops approved for commercial use include papaya, canola, tomato, potato, flax, squash, sugar beet and radicchio. Most of these crops are not grown today, despite approval for release.