EAST LANSING, Mich. — Even though genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetic engineering (GE) techniques have been around since the 1980s, they are still a source of confusion to many. Oftentimes this confusion is not the result of a lack of understanding of GMOs themselves, but of modern agricultural practices, genetics or physiological processes. This is understandable for the following reasons:
- Less than 2% of the current U.S. population is directly involved in agricultural production. One hundred years ago, it was close to 80%.
- Very few of us have had advanced training in current genetics and physiology to help avoid being misled by eye-catching, strange looking pictures of plants and animals that are actually naturally occurring processes.
- It seems part of the human condition is to be wary of what we do not understand. This is nothing new. Humans have feared new technology for centuries, primarily due to misconceptions on how something is developed and regulated. Fear generally dissipates over time as the technology becomes more common and better understood; providing misinformation does not prevent it.
MSU and other universities are taking the lead on providing more information on modern farming practices
Workers and researchers at agricultural universities recognize the disconnect the public has from agriculture, genetics and biology. This is understandable given the busy lives people have in mainly non-agricultural environments. That is why many universities, including Michigan State University, are making a concerted effort to inform the public on how their food is grown and produced.
MSU has developed a GMO website dedicated to information on GMOs and other agricultural topics: https://www.canr.msu.edu/gmos. This site links to many articles authored by a combination of MSU campus and field-based researchers and educators. They are written in a language understandable to the average consumer. The GMO website links to articles on genetics, naturally occurring variations in plants and animals, GMO definitions, GMO safety concerns, food labeling and other areas relevant to modern food production. MSU has also devoted a Futures Magazine to GMO technology, The Science Behind GMOs.
Information is regularly updated to keep readers informed
Articles from several MSU-based authors are added to this site on a regular basis. Therefore, a one-time visit is not enough. Those who are interested in knowing more about GMO technology and related information, such as plant and animal genetics/physiology and other aspects of modern agriculture, should bookmark the page and visit it on a regular basis.
— Ronald Goldy, Ted Ferris, Sarah Rautio and Joe Bixler, Michigan State University Extension
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