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Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

Posted by elisa_Z5 none (My Page) on
Sun, Nov 24, 13 at 8:46

There have been a few discussions about what crops are not GMO -- like carrots and tomatoes and wheat -- for various reasons.

I assume that unless labeled "organic" that all corn and soy products in the US are GMO.

What about potatoes? Sugar from beets?
Anything else?
I do understand that we're talking about food here, not seeds, as there are no GMO seeds available for home gardeners.

There is a lot of misinformation in the fringe media (and I live among people who thrive on fringe media) so it's hard to sort out fact from fiction.

Sorry that this question is less gardening and more food related, but I wanted to ask it on a forum frequented by people like nc-cm who know about the GM industry.
Thanks in advance for info.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

Almost all field/processed corn (some sweet corn, but not much...yet), soy, canola/rapeseed (mostly used for oil, both labeled canola oil and vegetable oil...check label), sugar beets (a majority of our table sugar), a lot of papaya, a small amount of summer squash (mostly yellow squash, around 10-15% total), and cotton seed oil (not used much and mostly for frying).

...also a lot of alfalfa is GMO, though it's not used for human food very much.

These are GMOs in the food marketplace. There are many more GMOs, but you're not going to find them in the marketplace or they're abandoned research projects that didn't go far to begin with. Also, this doesn't count GMO vitamin production (B-12, B-2, A, C etc), enzymes (such as cheese rennet), and medications (especially blood product medications like insulin and tPa)...a lot of which have been used for decades and are on an entirely different level of production mechanisms compared to whole-plant GMO technology.

Also, I'd like to bring up a "dividing line" for some GMO...such as the GMO yellow squash and GMO papaya. These GMOs are not bred to uptake herbicides or express pesticides. They are produced to fight off viruses by expressing a dead (usually just a protein coat with no bad viral load) version of an ordinarily plant damaging infection (Papaya Ringspot Virus or Mosaic Viruses). In this case they act as a sort of self-vaccinating source of GMO...only there are no additional carriers, preservatives, or mixtures along with the "vaccine" action. Also, these are things that humans have 0 interaction with. You can eat a squash that's full of Mosaic Virus or papayas full of PRV and they won't effect you...the GMO protection mechanisms are very similar to an actual infection, only they protect the crop from the destructive properties of the live/active virus.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

Also, it's important to remember that just because a GMO has been developed, or even approved, doesn't mean it's in the marketplace.

Wheat growers do not want anything to do with GMO wheat (especially because a lot is grown for export) even though some was approved. It was a project that was dead in the water even though it some varieties were produced to completion and approval.

GMO potatoes were produced for both disease resistance and for paper production (BASF produced a high-amylopectin variety to produce starch for the paper industry), but the farmers didn't want it. It never received approval even though it was developed to completion. The producers couldn't find a market for it that was interested enough to even take it through the approval process.

There's also a lot of GMO produced (especially by universities) that never go anywhere because it's not economically viable to produce commercially. A lot of nutrient dense/improved versions of non-staple crops have died in the research stage because commercial producers don't want to put the money into marketing a tomato that has 25%+ more nutrient value because of GMO manipulation. GMO rice (Golden Rice) and some GMO cassava may hit the marketplace soon in developing countries because they are staple crops there like corn/soy are here. Even though GMO "Golden Rice" may be approved here one day, it's highly unlikely any US growers would crop it because the issue it addresses (Vitamin A deficiency) is not an issue in this country and supplement is not needed in our diet.

As far as "what's next" for common GMO food crops that would show up in the US marketplace...though nothing is very close to the point of seeing it on shelves for at least 3-5+ years...non-browning apples with the genes for that mechanism "turned off" (mostly for the processed/sliced-pre-packaged market)...citrus resistance to huanglongbing/greening-disease...improved disease resistant bananas (black sigatoka fungus, especially)...colored-flesh (red) pineapple...

Out of those listed, the non-browning apple technology is closest (hotly debated, plus mostly not wanted by many commercial apple growers)...and resistance to huanglongbing/greening-disease is the most important (this disease is destroying the US citrus industry exponentially...and not getting better).


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

Thank you SO much, nc-cm.
It's great to have the actual information.
My 89 1/2 year old mother is refusing to eat a lot of things because she thinks they are GMO. Now I have the information to guide her, and hopefully she will gain a few pounds.

I had actually assumed that sweet corn was also GMO -- nice to know that at a typical veggie stand in the country side, we're probably getting non GMO corn on the cob.

Is it true that corn syrup, corn meal (so, corn chips) and corn starch are typically GMO?


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

A great majority of corn syrup, sugars and starches from corn, corn meal, corn chips, etc...pretty much anything processed from corn...is GMO in the US.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

Unless labelled organic.

That's quite interesting about the hugely increased nutrition of some GMO varieties, NC. Any more you can say about that, and in what ways exactly the nutrition is increased?


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 24, 13 at 19:20

Bananas, and probably oranges later, will go the way of the papaya, as there is a global disease threat, though the disease does not affect all types, just those that are exported to the developed world. The papayas in question are the large ones, right? small ones are still not GMO.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

It is around/over 90% of field corn, sugar beets, canola and soy. If something says sugar it will be GMO beet sugar unless it says cane sugar.
Due to subsidies almost every commercial product has sugar, corn, soy or canola. The produce dept is still pretty safe as well as rice, wheat, oats, olive or sunflower oils. Vegetable oil is soy and almost all margarines have GMO oils in them. Most farm animals eat GMO grains and alfalfa so meat and dairy contains it in the second degree.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

You forgot some rice which was developed to contain more Vitamin A but needs massive fertilizer inputs to grow, and is not too acceptable to the consumers it was meant for because it is yellow in color and not white.
There is also strong evidence that the genetic manipulation of field corn has jumped to the sweet corn. there is also a strain of wheat, not yet legal to grow, that has been genetically manipulated.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Mon, Nov 25, 13 at 8:37

I am not totally against GMO, when considering that the papaya crop has already been helped, bananas will be helped, and of course one of my interests, chestnuts, will someday be helped. But when I see things such as urning off the browning gene of apples, which means we are trying to develop a less nutritious apple (browning is due to those phytochemicals that clean up free radicals in our system), that drives me up the wall. do you want no browning? buy Cortland apples.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

The apple-browning-gene-turned-off GMOs already have run up against 2 major roadblocks...with more to come, probably.

McDonalds and Gerber have said they will not use any GMO apples, no matter how safe the technology. McDonalds is the #1 apple buyer in the country. Juice manufacturers have little-to-no use for a non-browning apple so that market isn't going to make a big impact.

It's a small-ish Canadian company that developed the technology...and it doesn't look like they're going to make a major footprint even if it is approved as of now.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

"The papayas in question are the large ones, right?"

Yes, not the "mango/yellow papayas." It's not because the smaller ones are immune from disease, it's that they don't have as big of a market as the larger ones. This is an area where market share dictated the focus of development.

"That's quite interesting about the hugely increased nutrition of some GMO varieties, NC. Any more you can say about that, and in what ways exactly the nutrition is increased?"

There's many ways it's done. It's usually an insertion of a gene (or genes) from other organisms to enhance nutrients or gene tinkering which makes a native gene express itself more than it would naturally. That said, this is more done in university and lab research settings...rarely actually making it to market (with the exception of the coming "Golden Rice" with Vitamin A enhancement in the global market).

Consumers generally don't care that a tomato contains a better nutrient value...they care that the tomato costs a certain price. For the most part, US consumers shouldn't care...the means to a nutrient-filled diet is readily available and a 25% bump in a certain nutrient isn't in demand except in very specialized cases...and those that care about such things generally don't look to GMO products for that supplement.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Mon, Nov 25, 13 at 20:29

On the other hand there are many things wrong with Golden Rice. It addresses a problem that is not there, for the most part. Vit. A deficiency affects hundreds of millions but it is due to zero absorption, not zero intake. In fact, generally these people intake plenty of carotene already, from greens fruits and roots. and to improve intake you have to add fats to the diet, and that is not happening and not addressed. So that is another gimmick that I hope will fail. Can't nobody find a genetic modification that will restore our trillion pounds/year crop of chestnuts instead?

Re: the small papayas, they may be sensitive to the virus, but they are such a dominant weed anywhere in their range, I am guessing it will continue to thrive despite the lack of attention...


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

There is a GMO American Chestnut, fwiw...SUNY-ESF (university) in Syracuse developed it.

It's got a gene from a wheat variety that produces an enzyme (oxalate oxidase) which makes the tree blight-resistant. There's also a gene from soybean which promotes the expression of the enzyme gene to concentrate in the trunk of the tree's vascular system rather than the whole plant.

That said, some people are scared of it (mostly those that have nothing to do with Chestnuts or just hate all GMOs)...so it's sitting around in test fields doing a lot of nothing.

There's traditional methods working on controlling the issue in the works in various places, including SUNY-ESF, outside the world of GMO, though. Re-establishment of the American Chestnut will happen on way or another eventually...traditionally or GMO.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

Here's a link from SUNY-ESF about their American Chestnut project

http://www.esf.edu/chestnut/tissue-culture.htm

The part near the bottom "American Chestnut Transformation" explains the genetic modification work.

Here is a link that might be useful: American chestnut tissue culture and transformation


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Mon, Nov 25, 13 at 22:02

well done! to think of all the hundreds of seedlings I planted with no success (those were crosses from resistant specimens, 1% chance of success without the deer).


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

Thank you, everyone, for the clear, comprehensive information.

--Elisa


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

But the question is which crops in our food supply are GMO not which crops have tinkered with GMOs being developed. There are many things that have been developed or almost developed that are not in the food supply. Two different things. Some were turned down my buyers, some by farmers and some were not thought profitable. Notice that the crops that get subsidies are the crops that have GMO seeds!
I believe GMO sweet corn came out in 2011 or so but I can't find out how much is grown yet.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

"Notice that the crops that get subsidies are the crops that have GMO seeds!"

Sugar beets, soy, cotton, canola, and corn get subsidies...but this was in place decades before GMO was even being developed, much less in the fields.

Wheat gets subsidies...you can't buy GMO wheat...though it was produced. Peanuts get subsidies...though the only GMO peanuts are still in research stages. Rice, barley, sunflowers, tobacco, oats, sorghum, apples, dairy, and various livestock all get subsidies from the US government.

There's also subsidies for land conservation, wetland preservation, and disaster payments. The US farm subsidy program is vast and mostly old. It's hard to get new subsidies and it's hard to get existing ones to go away.

These are all issues that came up before a world of GMO existed.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

Sweet-corn is foolishness anyhow. After Lord Fossil Fuel leaves there won't be any. Or any GMO's.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

In the USA nearly all common processed foods contain ingredients from the main gmo crops, and most of the animals eaten in the USA were fed on it.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

My point is that big Ag is going to spend the time and money making seeds for subsidized crops. It is not worth putting a lot into seeds that won't get a big return. It is so profitable right now to grow corn that land that is supposed to be left unfarmed and paid to be fallow, is being farmed with corn due to higher profits. This is causing problems with erosion and so on. Ethanol production is being blamed.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

"My point is that big Ag is going to spend the time and money making seeds for subsidized crops."

They're going to spend time and money making seed for crops that will fill millions of acres...not the 10-50 acre farmer's market gardener. What's subsidized and what isn't doesn't matter much.

Subsidies have nothing to do with what they develop. What matters is how many millions of acres out there are going to be planted.

There's about 100 million acres of corn, 80 million acres of soy, and 60 million ares of wheat planted every year. There's about 110,000 acres of tomatoes, 80,000 acres of peppers, and 70,000 acres of squash planted every year...just to get a scale on this. If all subsidies ended tomorrow you would still have 100s of times more grain crops being grown per acre than "traditional" vegetables and the motive for development from GMO companies wouldn't change because of that market scale.

Adding to this...farmers that already farm grains wouldn't stop farming grains if the subsidies went away. Farmers wouldn't suddenly start cropping 50,000 acres of tomatoes rather than growing corn/soy/wheat. Labor costs are a HUGE issue driving large acreage cropping choices for grains and oil crops as a choice for farming vs "regular" veggies...as well as overall massive market demand for grain crops and the US being a near-ideal place to grow for export all over the world.

Grain farming (including corn, which is a grain for almost all of it's use) and oil crop farming is a world of difference from vegetable farming. You don't need people in the fields doing anything but pest/disease/nutrient-issue scouting. You machine harvest all of it without human labor except the person(s) operating the harvesting machines. The crops don't "ripen" inconsistently or in intervals, it's harvested all in 1 run through the field. It's an entirely different method of farming and the animal feed, foreign export market, as well as all of it that's in our food will keep it around for...well, forever.

This post was edited by nc-crn on Wed, Nov 27, 13 at 23:17


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

I think in fact we are at a very unusual peak in terms of staple crop production in these few decades. This is no surprise since we are also right at or past world peak petroleum.

If we look backward from now all we see is a continual increase in grain production per worker. On the two main production continents, north america and eurasia, it is a steady move toward the semi-arid areas best suited for vast machinery to produce small grains, and maize in NA in more humid areas. All this is entirely driven by fossil fuel - namely petroleum and natural gas - for it's matchless utility in providing power and fertilizer. There is no substitute for it, coal cannot keep that system where it is, neither can pv-electricity, ethanol, nothing else can.

Without that perfect fuel the system has to move, because few people will live in these grain-basket regions. They are not amenable to dense populations for the most part. Grain production where it depends on fossil water will fail first, and it is already. Already upstate NY is becoming competitive again for grain, thanks to the organic market. There is a small but strong movement to produce staple grains/legumes in the eastern seaboard that I am involved with in a small way - it's small but growing very fast. This resurgence revolves around the superior taste and digestibility characteristics of heirloom cultivars - another reason the current system will fail, you can't have most of the population allergic to the modern cultivars which is what is happening.

There used to be approximately 40 mills per county from NS to GA. I predict that will come to be again within a century, maybe less.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Thu, Nov 28, 13 at 9:39

Ha! Peak oil per person (the amount of gas extracted every day for each living person) was in 1978 or 1979, and it was only 2.2 liters per person per day (0.6 gallons). Thais not a whole lot. Since then it has steadily declined, though very slowly.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

Sure, efficiency gains have been impressive, resulting in declining per-capita usage of energy even while per-capita consumption went up. Physics of course applies a limit to how far that can go.

The point is that an ag system that reduces human labor input by increasing input of other energy will clearly have to change as human labor gets cheaper and more abundant while the energy in question gets less abundant.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

Natural gas can power farm equipment...and it seems we have a lot...even though most of it is being shipped off-shore into the world market rather than keeping it around here...which is a testament to my natural gas heating bill not going down even though they're pumping more out of the US than any other place in the world. Sigh.

There are gains being made in runs-on-electric farm equipment (grid electricity), but most of that is in small cultivators and small tractors which aren't large harvesters or large scale plowing machines. China is a heavy innovator in this market, but larger manufactures like J.Deere are developing prototypes (diesel-hybrids mostly).


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

Yeah, currently we have a lot of natural gas via the fracking that is making some areas (too many) uninhabitable.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Thu, Nov 28, 13 at 12:15

Not only that, peak oil, as liquid oil, was rather broad, spanning decades from half-peak to half-peak. Not so with fracking, where the peak might last only 20 years.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Thu, Nov 28, 13 at 12:20

Anyhow, while my wife cooked the turkey, I rendered the back fat of one steer into tallow. First time I tried, and it came out completely clean and odorless. So, like Pat, I am keeping alive the manual labor tradition. Down with unhealthy, omega 6 rich, vitamin-D depleted, hydrogenated industrial fats.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

Yes, it's butter and olive oil for us, mostly.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

Butter and olive oil for us, too . . . EXCEPT
and here is the really upsetting part:
I just put two and two together and realized that Hellmann's Mayonnaise is made with GMO soy oil.
There is no justice in the world.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

Time to switch to the eggless soy-based, then. You get used to it.


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RE: Which of our food crops are mostly GMO?

What scares me is we really don't know what the "plant" is doing inside our body. There's a very good hint though, the scientists who developed these "plants" wont even eat them!


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