GMOS are genetically modified organisms. Scientists take DNA from one species and add it to the DNA of another in ways that could never happen in nature or through natural plant breeding. In the United States, the FDA has approved some of these genetically engineered crops for use, which means you're probably already eating or wearing GMOs and you don't even know it. -- Douglas Gayeton

GMOs are a hot button issue in America and other nations around the world. Yet to be deemed safe for humans and the environment, GMOs are in many products we consume. In America, mandatory labeling of items containing genetically engineered ingredients doesn’t exist. Moreover, farmers who choose not to plant GMO seeds may find them in their fields, blown in by the wind. While we await thorough testing, one thing is clear: a large percentage of individuals want to see genetically engineered foods labeled.

Farmer Joel Salatin reflects upon a time when his cows trampled a neighbor’s rose bushes, likening it to genetic drift, wondering why some corporations are not held to the same legal and ethical standards as others.

Perennial Plate introduces us to Vandana Shiva. Her organization Navdanya rallies individuals living in India and elsewhere around heirloom seed preservation in an effort to support both biodiversity and culture.

Political food writer Jane Black gets to the root of what all the fuss over genetically-engineered crops is about in her piece written for the Stone Barns Center for Food. What does she discover? While much more testing and research is needed to understand the full scope of how GM foods affect us and our planet, the first step many would like to see taken is, quite simply, labeling foods containing GMOs. That way, they can make knowledgeable decisions about what they and their families eat while researchers investigate potential outcomes.

The Environmental Working Group introduces us to a chemical called 2,4-D. Already linked to a wide range of health concerns in humans, if its approved for broad use, results could be dire.

Sara Fulton-Koerbling returns with a first person perspective of the importance of seed saving in order to uphold our sense of place.

After learning about GMOs, you might be wondering what you can do. Our friends at Grace offer a solution: setting up a GMO-free kitchen.

Next, The Green Divas highlight GMO crops and the dangers they present to American farms and the environment.

Finally, food journalist Michael Pollan and food advocate Anna Lappé examine the GMO issue and its potential affects on farmers in developing nations.

This week's terms


Any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology. - Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity


Freedom from the intellectual property restraints imposed by GMO seed companies allows farmers to maintain full control of their farm’s ecosystem, from choosing which varieties of seeds to grow to preserving a healthy chemical-free foundation for wildlife.

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