What is a GMO?

What are GMO seeds?

Why are GMO crops grown?

Are GMO foods safe?

All great questions.

What you eat is important. Not just the nutrition of your food, but how it's grown. How it impacts you, your family and the planet we share is serious business. We encourage asking questions, especially when it comes to your food.

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Curiosity should be embraced, never discouraged.

What is a GMO?

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism, and it can describe the way many products in industries like medicine, scientific research and agriculture are made. At Monsanto, when we say GMO, we're talking about seeds. They grow in the ground like any other seed, only GMO seeds have certain desirable traits setting them apart. These seeds grow into plants that might use water more efficiently, require less farmland or better withstand pests like bugs or weeds.

GMO (or GM) seeds have been used by farmers for approximately 20 years. However, seeds have actually been modified through traditional plant breeding techniques for hundreds of years. Fruits like today's seedless watermelon and bananas, which are significantly different than earlier versions of these fruits, are a result of traditional plant breeding techniques. Modern GM seeds still make use of traditional plant breeding to add desired traits to plants—essentially combining cutting-edge and foundational plant science.

How GMO seeds are developed:

  1. The desired trait (like disease resistance or drought tolerance) is identified in nature.

  2. The gene for the trait is transferred into a plant seed.

  3. The plant is tested to ensure that it is safe for people, animals and the environment.

  4. After years of testing and approvals from governments around the world, the new seeds are available to farmers.

Scientists, including plant breeders, harness nature to help nourish a growing world.

Why Grow GMO Crops?

If you're wondering why farmers choose to grow genetically modified crops, it helps when you consider the challenges they face every day: crop loss from weeds, insects and disease, and the effects of climate change such as drought, just to name a few. Farming and growing enough food for everyone is hard; our passion is to help make it easier.

Battling Droughts & Climate Change

Some GMO crops can use water more efficiently than conventional crops. Agriculture uses about 70% of the earth's freshwater supply, so it's important to make every drop count. Some GMO seeds promote the use of no-till farming, which helps farmers use less water by keeping more moisture in the soil. This no-till method also reduces agriculture's carbon footprint by using less fuel and keeping more carbon dioxide in the ground.

Crafted with intent and purpose—helping farmers, consumers and the planet.

Fighting Pests & Disease

Back in the '90s, the Papaya Ringspot Virus was spreading across farms in Hawaii and killing papaya trees. In response, scientists made papayas resistant to the virus by applying a specific gene found in the virus itself. This GMO papaya looks and tastes the same but is not affected by the virus.

Conserving Natural Habitats

All too often, creating more farmland involves clearing habitats like rainforests, plains and parks. GMO seeds can help farmers make the most of their land by allowing them to produce more food without expanding their farms.

Are GMO Foods Safe?

As consumers ourselves, we place the highest priority on the safety of our products and conduct rigorous and demanding tests on each. In fact, GM seeds have been tested more than any other crop in the history of agriculture—with no evidence of harm to humans, animals or the environment. The data have been reviewed by hundreds of independent scientists and researchers globally.

Multiple independent organizations have performed exhaustive reviews to confirm our findings, including:

The American Medical Association

“Bioengineered foods [GMO food] have been consumed for close to 20 years, and during that time, no overt consequences on human health have been reported and/or substantiated in the peer-reviewed literature.”

Royal Society of Medicine

“Foods derived from GM crops have been consumed by hundreds of millions of people across the world for more than 15 years, with no reported ill effects (or legal cases related to human health), despite many of the consumers coming from the most litigious of countries, the USA.”

World Health Organization

“GM foods currently available on the international market have passed safety assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.”

National Academy of Sciences

“...the study committee found no substantiated evidence of a difference in risks to human health between currently commercialized genetically engineered (GE) crops and conventionally bred crops, nor did it find conclusive cause-and-effect evidence of environmental problems from the GE crops.”

Holding our science accountable and our food to the highest of standards.

One of Many Solutions

GMO seeds are just one of many options we provide to growers—in fact, many of our own seeds are not genetically modified; they are developed through traditional plant breeding. There can and should be a variety of ways farmers feed our growing world, and Monsanto helps them grow GMO, conventional and organic crops.

A Global Conversation

There are few things as personal as the food we eat. Everyone has the right to ask questions about farming and the science behind it, including the science of GMOs and GMO foods. The future of our food supply will come as a result of constructive, open-minded conversation working toward a shared goal. If you’d like to add your voice to the conversation, we’re happy to welcome you.

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