What it Takes to Make GMOs
Learn how GMOs are regulated and tested for safety.
Ever wonder what happens before a GMO is sold to farmers? Learn how GMO seeds are tested, reviewed and approved to eat and grow.
From figuring out what consumers want, to development and testing, a lot happens before product comes to market. GMO seeds are products too, but why are new GMOs made? Give it a minute. Scientist's continue to develop GMO seeds to help farmers overcome many challenges, including managing pests, conserving water and ultimately producing enough to feed us all. But GMOs don't happen overnight. Developing them takes incredible collaboration and research. On average, this takes around thirteen years and can cost up to one hundred and thirty million dollars. During this time promising products undergo hundreds of different tests. Some make sure a product in nutritionally equivalent to its conventional counterpart. Other tests examine environmental and food safety, as well as product benefits. But two primary things will bring this process to a hault; One, if a product doesn't meet safety criteria. The other, if a product isn't beneficial. Because if it doesn't work farmers won't buy it. And in any country where GMO seed products will be grown or where the food in feed crops the seeds produced will be imported, regulators there need to review and approve them as well. That's up to sixty countries and hundreds of regulators. After approvals are complete this new seed choice is ready for work. As for the scientists, they're on to the next challenge. That's a lot to cover in a minute, so if you still have questions, check out discover.monsanto.com.
How GMOs are Made
Understanding how GMOs are made is important. Like any product, gaining a greater understanding of the process, science and regulation behind GMOs can help us learn more about the role they play in our food system and how GMOs are helping farmers nourish our growing world.
1. GMOs are Tested for Safety
To ensure GMOs are safe, government agencies from around the world review data from a series of rigorous tests and approve each product before it’s sold to farmers, imported into the country or fed to humans or animals. In the United States the FDA, USDA and EPA share responsibility for approving a GMO product–each focusing on their area of expertise.
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), reviews data ensuring the GMO is as safe and nutritious as the conventional version.
- The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), oversees field tests for GMO crops and reviews the data to assess whether the crop is safe for farming and the environment.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), oversees field testing and the sale and distribution of GMO crops that are resistant to pests and diseases. Ultimately, they determine that these products are safe for people and the ecosystem.
2. GMOs and Non-GMOs are Held to the Same Safety Criteria
According to the FDA, “Food and food ingredients derived from GE plants must adhere to the same safety requirements under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act that apply to food and food ingredients derived from traditionally bred plants.”
3. GMOs Aren’t Made Overnight
On average, it takes about 13 years and up to $130 million to conduct the research, development and testing needed to bring a GMO seed to market. When it comes to seeds, we invest more than a billion dollars a year in research and development.
4. GMO Seeds are Grown and Imported All Over the World
Today, more than 60 different countries grow and/or import GMOs—countries in North America, South America, Europe and Asia. Each GMO crop is routinely reviewed by literally hundreds of independent risk assessors and scientists from a wide range of disciplines. South Korea, for example, has five different agencies responsible for evaluating GMO crops.
5. Many Independent Scientists have Studied GMOs
Groups independent of corporations, like the World Health Organization, the United States National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association and the European Academies Science Advisory Council, have conducted exhaustive, scientific safety reviews of GMOs. All of these groups have concluded that GM crops are as safe as conventional ones.
Grow Enough for a Growing World
In the coming decades, farmers will face a significant challenge. Growers will need to provide more nourishment, for more people—all while using fewer resources like water and farmland. Our passion is to provide them with the tools they need. It may be a seed, crop protection, software or another innovation—all solutions designed to empower farmers. Along with the help of others, we’re pursuing smarter ways to nourish our world.