Biotechnology (also called GM or GMO’s) is a refinement of breeding techniques that have been used to improve plants for thousands of years. Biotechnology plays a role in products that we use every day, including insulin and thyroid hormones for medical purposes, yeast for wine and beer production, and biofuels for energy.
Food crops developed using biotechnology have been on the market since 1996, more than 15 years. In fact, approximately 70% of processed food found on grocery store shelves contains ingredients and oils from biotech crops. For more than a decade, fruit and vegetable farmers have been growing biotech (GM) squash, papaya, and sweet corn.
Biotechnology helps farmers reduce pesticide use, fight devastating plant diseases, as well as reduce their fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions because of fewer tractor trips across their fields. Experts agree that we will need to grow as much food in the next few decades as we did in the past 10,000 years combined if we are to sustain our planet. Biotechnology is one tool that can help contribute to abundant and affordable food for the world’s growing population. Indeed, 29 countries planted 1.25 hectares of biotech crops in 2011, representing an area 25% larger than the total land mass of the US or China.
The safety of biotech products is evaluated and reviewed by the FDA, EPA, and USDA. Their safety has also been confirmed by numerous third-party organizations including the American Medical Association (AMA), the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, and the National Academy of Sciences in the United States, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.