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Arm yourself against attacks by anti-GMO activists Alan McHughen Botany and Plant Sciences University of California, Riverside, Ca.

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Presentation on theme: "Arm yourself against attacks by anti-GMO activists Alan McHughen Botany and Plant Sciences University of California, Riverside, Ca."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Arm yourself against attacks by anti-GMO activists Alan McHughen Botany and Plant Sciences University of California, Riverside, Ca.

3 Most people have romantic notions of farming and food production

4 Modern agriculture is actually… Intense but Sustainable Production Oriented Intense but Sustainable Production Oriented US Agriculture Productivity increase since 1948 = 170% Productivity increase since 1948 = 170% 1900 US agriculture workforce = 41% 1900 US agriculture workforce = 41% 2000 US agriculture workforce = <2% 2000 US agriculture workforce = <2%

5 Status of GM crops USA USA Corn > 90% Corn > 90% Cotton > 90% Cotton > 90% Soybean> 90% Soybean> 90% Argentina: Soybean > 90% Argentina: Soybean > 90% Canada: Canola > 90% Canada: Canola > 90% India: Cotton> 90% India: Cotton> 90% Farmers worldwide support GM technology!

6 Assurance of Safety “There are no scientific studies on GMO safety!” “There are no scientific studies on GMO safety!” Over 600 technical, peer reviewed studies in the literature, covering every aspect of GMO safety Over 600 technical, peer reviewed studies in the literature, covering every aspect of GMO safety “There is no consensus in the scientific and medical communities on the safety of GMOs!” “There is no consensus in the scientific and medical communities on the safety of GMOs!” Greg Jaffe, CSPI: Greg Jaffe, CSPI: “There is no reliable evidence that ingredients made from current GE crops pose any health risk whatsoever” “There is no reliable evidence that ingredients made from current GE crops pose any health risk whatsoever”

7 Scientific Consensus? Generally positive Generally positive * US National Academies * US Institute of Medicine * American Medical Association * British Royal Society * Royal Society of Medicine * EFSA * EU Economic Commission * World Health Organization * AAAS * American Dietetic Association * International Seed Foundation Etc, etc… Generally negative

8 Benefits of GM crops (somewhat) Higher yields (somewhat) Higher yields Cleaner crops; fewer weeds and other contaminants Cleaner crops; fewer weeds and other contaminants Reduced mycotoxins in Bt maize Reduced mycotoxins in Bt maize Only feasible answer to Huanlongbing in Citrus Only feasible answer to Huanlongbing in Citrus Only feasible answer to Pierce’s disease in Grape Only feasible answer to Pierce’s disease in Grape Only feasible means to increase world food production by Only feasible means to increase world food production by 2050.

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11 NAS/IOM findings Genetic engineering is NOT inherently hazardous Genetic engineering is NOT inherently hazardous The risks of rDNA are similar to the risks posed by traditional forms of plant breeding The risks of rDNA are similar to the risks posed by traditional forms of plant breeding There are NO documented adverse health effects from eating foods derived from Biotech crops. There are NO documented adverse health effects from eating foods derived from Biotech crops. Allegations of harm are unfounded Allegations of harm are unfounded Update: Still true as of May, Update: Still true as of May, 2013.

12 ‘GE crops are released with no regulatory oversight’ USDA (APHIS) - environmental issues USDA (APHIS) - environmental issues HHS (FDA)- food and feed safety; focus on toxicants, allergens and other antinutrients HHS (FDA)- food and feed safety; focus on toxicants, allergens and other antinutrients EPA- pesticide usage issues EPA- pesticide usage issues

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14 ‘GE Crops are unnatural and unsustainable’ US: NAS, Impact of GE crops on farm sustainability in the US US: NAS, Impact of GE crops on farm sustainability in the US Also see: Also see: Brookes and Barfoot, 2012 Brookes and Barfoot, 2012 Qaim, 2009 Qaim, 2009

15 Sustainability Impacts in the USA Conclusions: Planting GE crops generally : Conclusions: Planting GE crops generally : Is better for the environment than conventional crops Is better for the environment than conventional crops Uses less pesticide Uses less pesticide Uses safer pesticides than those used in conventional cropping systems Uses safer pesticides than those used in conventional cropping systems Reduces tillage, leading to improvements in Reduces tillage, leading to improvements in Soil Soil Water Water BUT: may lead to reliance on a single pesticide. BUT: may lead to reliance on a single pesticide.

16 Yet, you still hear about … Pseudo-Science: Pseudo-Science: Superweeds; Carcinogens; Rat and pig studies; Terminator seeds; Unpleasant long term effects; Biodiversity destruction; ‘Unnatural’ gene combinations; etc. Superweeds; Carcinogens; Rat and pig studies; Terminator seeds; Unpleasant long term effects; Biodiversity destruction; ‘Unnatural’ gene combinations; etc. Non-Science: Non-Science: Monsanto world domination plans; Corrupt and desperate scientists; Impact on poor/small/organic farmers, ‘Nobody wants GMOs!’ Monsanto world domination plans; Corrupt and desperate scientists; Impact on poor/small/organic farmers, ‘Nobody wants GMOs!’ ‘They refuse to even label them so consumers can decide’. ‘They refuse to even label them so consumers can decide’.

17 Biotech beef tomatoes? from Holland?

18 Sodium free?

19 Diet Water?

20 “Truthful and not misleading”?

21 Conclusion: We DO need more food Stick with Science Stick with Science Science supports GM food and farming Science supports GM food and farming Educate the Curious Educate the Curious Most people are open minded, but don’t know much about either science or where food actually comes from Most people are open minded, but don’t know much about either science or where food actually comes from Challenge the Liars! Challenge the Liars! Especially in public. Farmers are people, too, and are 90% in favor of GM agriculture. Especially in public. Farmers are people, too, and are 90% in favor of GM agriculture. But the activists are eating our lunch, stealing our credibility, when their lies go unchallenged. But the activists are eating our lunch, stealing our credibility, when their lies go unchallenged.


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