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Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) and the Food System

As the use of genetic engineering in food and the agricultural system began to rise dramatically, many consumers were are only becoming aware that biotechnology might be in the foods they were eating. This technology transfers genetic material from one plant or animal to another to create new characteristics. Some believe products created through biotechnology can provide humankind with great opportunities for solving world food problems, making foods better and more nutritious, enhancing farm productivity, and improving the environment. Others believe that health problems will emerge for some people who eat biotech foods and that biotechnology risks harming the environment.

Farm Foundation collaborated with the Kettering Foundation in 2001 to develop a National Issues Forum™ publication, Biotechnology in Our Food: How Do We Proceed?, to increase public understanding of GMO’s and their place in the food supply. The publication identified three policy approaches concerning biotechnology:
  • Let science and enterprise guide the food system
  • Safety first: protect human health and the environment
  • Encourage non biotech food alternatives and labeling

Each of these approaches embodies a different set of core values and probable consequences for shaping the future role of biotechnology.

Biotechnology in Our Food: How Do We Proceed? received wide distribution through extension educators and other groups that use the National Issues Forum materials with citizens throughout the United States. As well, a  land use publication Farm Foundation produced with Kettering in 1999 is now in its second printing with over 15,000 copies in circulation.

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