Each week, we will answer a question from our readers regarding our operations and community outreach here in Puerto Rico. Do you have a question? Write us at email@example.com.
Week of April 17, 2017
Is glyphosate safe?
In evaluations spanning four decades, the overwhelming conclusion of experts worldwide, including the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR), has been that glyphosate can be used safely. In fact, glyphosate safety is supported by one of the most extensive worldwide human health, crop residue and environmental databases ever compiled on a pesticide product.
Like all pesticides, regulatory authorities around the world routinely review the latest safety data on glyphosate.
Week of April 10, 2017
Does glyphosate affect bees?
Honey bee health is an important issue for everyone, including those of us here at Monsanto. As consumers, we are aware that we all rely on honey bees to pollinate many of the fruits, vegetables and other crops we enjoy.
As a company, we also depend on honey bees and other pollinators from a business perspective since we sell fruit, vegetable, alfalfa and canola seeds that need healthy pollinators to grow.
There are many factors – including varroa mite, pesticides, weather and disease – contributing to the challenges honey bees face and we are working with beekeepers, growers, academics and others to understand the challenges and help develop solutions.
GLYPHOSATE: When it comes to glyphosate and honey bees, specifically, it’s important to note that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carefully considers effects on many non-pest organisms, including honey bees, when they approve new pesticides for use.Furthermore, a 2014 study by Thompson et al, found that “No adverse effects on adult bees or bee brood survival or development in honeybee colonies treated with glyphosate at levels that would occur in real life.” This finding is consistent with the EPA’s conclusion.
We invite anyone interested in learning about our work around honey bee health to check out this page on our website. As a member of the Honey Bee Health Coalition, we also encourage people to visit honeybeehealthcoalition.org to learn about some of the collaborative efforts underway.
Week of April 3, 2017
How does glyphosate work?
Glyphosate is absorbed by the plant and then moved – or translocated – throughout the plant’s tissues. The surfactant assists the delivery of glyphosate into the plant by attaching itself to the leaf’s waxy surface and breaking it down. Once inside the plant, glyphosate inhibits the activity of an enzyme, which in turn prevents the plant from manufacturing certain amino acids essential for plant growth and life.
After the herbicide application, the plant gradually wilts and turns yellow. Then, as the plant tissue deteriorates, it turns brown. At the same time, the plant’s underground roots decompose. Ultimately, the entire plant dies, and is incapable of regrowth.
Week of September 26, 2016
What can be done to prevent cross breeding of genetically modified (GM) crops?
According to The Royal Society of London,
research has been conducted aimed at making GM plants that cannot reproduce. There are various ways to do this, but the most high profile has been Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs) or ‘terminator seed’ technology. The seeds from these GM plants would be prevented from germinating, so if they breed with wild relatives there would be no viable offspring. However, this technology would also prevent farmers from being able to save seeds to plant in future years. There has been an international moratorium on the use of terminator seeds since 2000. You can read Monsanto’s policy about this here – http://monsanto.info/1iJ1tjV.
Genetic use restriction technology (GURT) is based on the prevention of seed germination and was patented in the 1990s by the US government and licensed by commercial companies, including Monsanto. The technology was never shown to work reliably in practice. The concept became known as ‘terminator seed’ technology since the plants would not be able to produce fertile seeds. In 2000, the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity introduced an international moratorium on the use of GURTs because of concern about the potential economic effect on farmers, who would not be able to save seed for future planting.
Saving seeds is not legal for either GM or non-GM crops where license restrictions are in place. In addition, farmers and gardeners alike will be familiar with F1 hybrid varieties, made by crossing together diverse parents, from which seed cannot be usefully saved because they don’t breed true.
Week of September 19, 2016
Have genetically modified (GM) crops caused damage to the environment?
According to The Royal Society of London, crops do not damage the environment simply because they are genetically modified (GM). Some farming practices, such as the overuse of herbicides resulting in the excessive eradication of wild plants from farmland have been shown to harm the environment. These problems are similar for non-GM and GM crops.
In a large farm scale evaluation of herbicide tolerant GM crops conducted in the UK between 1999 and 2006 it was shown that when weed control is particularly effective insect biodiversity is reduced. It did not matter whether or not the crop was GM, the important factor was how many weeds remained in the crop. Damage to wildlife can be reduced if a small amount of agricultural land is set aside for biodiversity.
A related issue is the growing problem of weeds becoming resistant to herbicides, due to the overuse of those herbicides. Herbicide tolerant crops, whether GM or non-GM, can cause this problem because repeated growth of the same herbicide tolerant crop involves repeated use of the same herbicide. One solution is the rotation of crops resistant to different herbicides, or rotation of herbicide use with use of other weed control strategies.
The use of GM crops resistant to insects through introduction of the gene for Bt toxin has environmental benefits. For example, GM insect resistant cotton has substantially reduced the application of more environmentally damaging insecticides, with consequent environmental benefits and health benefits for cotton farmers.
However, just like herbicide resistant weeds, insect pests can develop resistance to insecticides whether they are produced in the crop itself by GM, or sprayed onto the crop. This problem is less frequent if a rotation of different insect control procedures is used.
Week of September 12, 2016
Could eating genetically modified (GM) food have an effect on my genes?
According to The Royal Society of London, no. Eating GM food will not affect a person’s genes. Most of the food we eat contains genes, although in cooked or processed foods, most of the DNA has been destroyed or degraded and the genes are fragmented. Our digestive system breaks them down without any effect on our genetic make-up. Our own genes are made by our bodies from the building blocks that we obtain from digesting any food. This is true of food from GM and non-GM sources.
Humans have always eaten DNA from plants and animals. Most plants or animal cells contain about 30,000 genes, and most GM crops contain an additional 1 – 10 genes in their cells. We all eat DNA in our diets, mainly from fresh food and the composition of DNA in GM food is the same as that in non-GM food.
Processing food by cooking leads to the partial or complete breakdown of the DNA molecules, whatever their origin. Likewise, most DNA that is eaten is broken down by our digestive systems but small quantities of fragmented DNA can pass into the bloodstream and organs without having any known effect.
Week of September 5, 2016
Is it safe to eat GM crops?
According to The Royal Society of London, yes. There is no evidence that a crop is dangerous to eat just because it is GM. There could be risks associated with the specific new gene introduced, which is why each crop with a new characteristic introduced by GM is subject to close scrutiny. Since the first widespread commercialization of GM produce 18 years ago there has been no evidence of ill effects linked to the consumption of any approved GM crop.
Before any food produced using GM technology is permitted onto the market, a variety of tests have to be completed. The results from these tests, including results from animal feeding trials, are considered by the authorities responsible for determining the safety of each new GM product. This makes new GM crop varieties at least as safe to eat as new non-GM varieties, which are not tested in this way.
There have been a few studies claiming damage to human or animal health from specific foods that have been developed using GM. The claims were not about the GM method itself, but about the specific gene introduced into the crop, or about agricultural practices associated with the crop, such as herbicide treatments. The statistical analysis and methodology of these studies have been challenged. All reliable evidence produced to date shows that currently available GM food is at least as safe to eat as non-GM food.
An animal feeding trial of GM tomatoes modified to produce high levels of antioxidants showed the GM tomatoes reduced the levels of cancer. This is not because the tomatoes are GM, but rather because they produce antioxidants, which are known to reduce cancer.
Week of August 29, 2016
Where are genetically modified (GM) crops being eaten?
According to The Royal Society of London, the main genetically modified (GM) crops, maize (corn) and soybean, are used mostly for feeding animals. Meat, milk and eggs from animals fed with GM crops are eaten by people in many countries including the UK. GM crops are also used in many processed foodstuffs eaten around the world including cooking oils and other ingredients. The main GM foods eaten in a fresh state are alfalfa, squash and papaya in the USA, tomato, papaya and sweet pepper in China, and aubergine in Bangladesh. There are no fresh GM fruit or vegetables approved for consumption by humans in the EU.
The consumption of GM crops varies between countries. Tens of millions of tonnes of GM maize and soybean are exported from North and South America to other parts of the world where there is a shortage of inexpensive plant protein for animal feed. For example, about two thirds of all protein-based animal feed in the EU comes from soy, of which about 70% is imported, and over 90% of that is produced from GM soybeans. Meat, milk and eggs from animals fed with GM crops is eaten in many countries including the UK. In the UK, meat, milk or eggs labelled as organic will be from animals that have been fed non-GM feed. Of the UK supermarkets, only Waitrose commits to ensuring non-GM feed is used to produce its eggs, chicken, turkey, farmed fish and New Zealand lamb.
GM crops are also used in processed foodstuffs including cooking oils, specialist starch (often added to foods like coatings and batters) and other food ingredients. For example, cooking oil, sauces, biscuits and other confectionary made from or containing GM crops – which must be labelled as such – are available in UK supermarkets.
A GM virus-resistant variety of papaya is widely grown in the USA and China and is exported to other countries including Japan.
Week of August 22, 2016
Which genes have been introduced into genetically modified (GM) crops so far and why?
According to The Royal Society of London, the most prominent examples include genes that make the crops resistant to herbicides, insects, or viruses.
• Herbicide tolerance
The first GM characteristic to be widely adopted was resistance to a herbicide called Roundup® (or glyphosate) in soybeans. There are also varieties of herbicide tolerant crops produced by non-GM methods. Resistance to these types of broad herbicide – which would usually kill both weeds and crops – means that efficient weed control is possible because the herbicide can be applied while the crop is growing, without damaging the crop. Without herbicide tolerant crops, a range of different types of herbicides might be needed to clear out all the weeds before planting the crop. Another benefit of herbicide tolerant crops is that they can be planted into a weedy field, because the weeds can be controlled with herbicide. This reduces the need for ploughing, which means less soil erosion. Disadvantages are that the farmer must buy the proprietary herbicide to match the herbicide tolerant crop, and this type of control runs counter to attempts to reduce the dependency of agriculture on chemical inputs.
• Insect resistance
The bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) produces a group of proteins known as the Bt toxin, which are toxic for certain insects, but do not harm beneficial insects or other animals. Bacillus thuringiensis is used as an insecticide spray in organic farming. Genes for several Bt toxins have been introduced into many crops by GM. For example, over 90% of the cotton planted in the USA, India, China, Australia and South Africa are GM varieties containing Bt toxin genes. Over the last 20 years, it is estimated that the application of 450,000 tons of insecticide has been avoided due to the use of Bt toxin genes in crops.
• Virus resistance
GM has been used to resurrect the papaya industry of Hawaii as papaya ringspot virus almost destroyed its plantations in the 1990s. There are no known papaya varieties with natural resistance to this virus but by adding a gene to the papaya from the virus itself, resistant papaya strains were created. Today 77% of Hawaiian papaya farmers grow GM papaya.
Week of August 15, 2016
What about unforeseen consequences of genetic modification (GM)?
According to The Royal Society of London, there is no evidence that producing a new crop variety using genetic modification (GM) techniques is more likely to have unforeseen effects than producing one using conventional cross breeding.
Concerns have been expressed that simply inserting new DNA into a plant genome by GM, might have unpredictable consequences. However, as our knowledge of genomes has increased it has become clear that similar insertion events occur frequently in all plants. For example, some bacteria and viruses insert new genes into the genomes of plants that they infect. We have also discovered that plant genomes contain many so-called ‘jumping genes’ that move around the genome, re-inserting themselves in different places. We also know, from studying the genomes of different members of the same species, that gain and loss of genes within species is very common too.
Because of these processes, all new crop varieties, however they are produced can include genes inserted in new unknown places in the genome and new genes that may not have previously been in the food chain or come from non-plant species. This means that there may occasionally be unforeseen consequences from both GM and non-GM crop varieties.
Week of August 8, 2016
What is genetic modification of crops and how is it done?
According to The Royal Society of London, genetic modification (GM) is a technology that involves inserting DNA into the genome of an organism. To produce a GM plant, new DNA is transferred into plant cells. Usually, the cells are then grown in tissue culture where they develop into plants. The seeds produced by these plants will inherit the new DNA.
The characteristics of all living organisms are determined by their genetic makeup and its interaction with the environment. The genetic makeup of an organism is its genome, which in all plants and animals is made of DNA. The genome contains genes, regions of DNA that usually carry the instructions for making proteins. It is these proteins that give the plant its characteristics. For example, the colour of flowers is determined by genes that carry the instructions for making proteins involved in producing the pigments that colour petals.
Genetic modification of plants involves adding a specific stretch of DNA into the plant’s genome, giving it new or different characteristics. This could include changing the way the plant grows, or making it resistant to a particular disease. The new DNA becomes part of the GM plant’s genome which the seeds produced by these plants will contain.
The first stage in making a GM plant requires transfer of DNA into a plant cell. One of the methods used to transfer DNA is to coat the surface of small metal particles with the relevant DNA fragment, and bombard the particles into the plant cells. Another method is to use a bacterium or virus. There are many viruses and bacteria that transfer their DNA into a host cell as a normal part of their life cycle. For GM plants, the bacterium most frequently used is called Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The gene of interest is transferred into the bacterium and the bacterial cells then transfer the new DNA to the genome of the plant cells. The plant cells that have successfully taken up the DNA are then grown to create a new plant. This is possible because individual plant cells have an impressive capacity to generate entire plants. On rare occasions, the process of DNA transfer can happen without deliberate human intervention. For example, the sweet potato contains DNA sequences that were transferred thousands of years ago, from Agrobacterium bacteria into the sweet potato genome.
There are other ways to change the genomes of crops, some of which are long established, such as mutational breeding, and others of which are new, such as genome editing.
Week of August 1, 2016
How does genetic modification differ from conventional plant breeding?
According to The Royal Society of London, the goal of both genetic modification (GM) and conventional plant breeding is to produce crops with improved characteristics by changing their genetic makeup. GM achieves this by adding a new gene or genes to the genome of a crop plant. Conventional breeding achieves it by crossing together plants with relevant characteristics, and selecting the offspring with the desired combination of characteristics, as a result of particular combinations of genes inherited from the two parents.
Both conventional plant breeding and GM deliver genetic crop improvement. Genetic improvement has been a central pillar of improved agricultural productivity for thousands of years. This is because wild plants make very poor crops. Natural selection tends to favour plants that can compete with neighbouring plants for light, water and nutrients, defend themselves from being eaten and digested by animals, and disperse their seed over long distances. These characteristics are in direct conflict with the goals of agriculture, which require plants to invest as many of their resources as possible into making nutritious, easy to harvest products for human consumption. Because of the stark contrast between what natural selection has produced and what makes a good crop, for thousands of years we have used conventional breeding approaches to convert plants that compete well in the wild, to plants that perform well in agriculture. The result is our modern crop varieties, which are much higher yielding and more nutritious than their wild ancestors, but which compete poorly in the wild.
New characteristics can be introduced into crops using either conventional or GM approaches. This raises the question of when a plant breeder might choose a GM approach vs a conventional approach. GM can only be used to introduce a new characteristic into a crop if two requirements are met.
Firstly, it is necessary that the characteristic can be introduced by adding only a small number of genes, and secondly, it is necessary to know what gene or genes those are. At the time GM technology was invented we knew much less about which plant genes do what, which greatly restricted the number of useful applications for GM in crops.
With improvements in our knowledge about which plant genes do what, we now know many genes that could contribute to improving sustainable food production. In some cases conventional breeding will be the best way to deploy these genes – that is by cross-breeding with the plant that contains the genes providing these characteristics.
In other cases GM, where scientists take a gene and insert it directly into a plant, might be easier, or indeed the only way they can be deployed.
There are two main reasons why GM might be preferable. Firstly, the gene of interest might not exist in a species that can be successfully crossed with the crop. The gene might come from an entirely different kingdom, such as a bacterium, or it might come from a different plant species.
Secondly, today’s high yield crop lines have carefully honed combinations of genes. If a useful gene or gene variant is discovered in a wild relative, crossing the high yield line with the wild relative will result in mixing together the genomes of the two parents, destroying the carefully selected combination of genes in the high yield line. Using modern molecular breeding techniques, such as ‘marker assisted breeding’, it is possible to reassemble those gene combinations over a relatively small number of generations.
Nonetheless, it does take multiple generations, and therefore several years. Furthermore, even then it is almost always the case that additional genes that are very close to the gene of interest are also transferred. These problems can be avoided if it is possible to introduce the gene directly into the high yield crop by genetic modification.
Week of July 25, 2016
How common are genes in food?
According to The Royal Society of London, all food from plants or animals contains genes. In cooked or processed foods, most of the DNA has been destroyed or degraded and the genes are fragmented. Whether fresh or cooked, when we eat food, we digest it into its constituent parts from which we make our own genes and proteins.
Each cell in a plant contains about 30,000 genes. Genetic modification usually involves adding an extra 1 to 10 genes. It is estimated that we each eat many billions of genes every day, which come mainly from fresh food.
Week of June 27, 2016
Is it true that GMOs are doused in Roundup and have more toxic residues?
Crops are not “doused” in anything. The word implies a haphazard and presumably excessive application of materials, and this is not the case. Although you expressed concern only for pesticide use in GM crops, the same regulatory assessments are done for GM and non-GM crops. Pesticide application rates and application times are subject to regulation, and maximum allowable levels of residue in various food or feed crops are subject to regulation. In the case of glyphosate in the United States, even worst-case-scenario estimates (assuming crops contain maximum allowable levels, grossly overestimating exposure) indicate that intakes are well below levels of regulatory concern.
Week of June 20, 2016
Is it true that there is no scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs?
That is false, because a growing global consensus of leading experts in science, medical and regulatory agencies around the world have confirmed that there is no evidence of harm from consuming foods produced using biotechnology anywhere in the world. Any potential risks of consuming these foods are no greater than the safety of consuming conventional foods. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration and USDA review the science of all foods in commerce and have the authority to remove any food from the market it deems unsafe. Numerous reviews in the United States and by regulators around the world have confirmed the safety of foods produced using biotechnology (additional information available here and here).
Week of June 13, 2016
Is it true GMOs have bacteria genes?
Some GMO crops have a gene from a naturally occurring bacteria called “Bt” that affects a few types of insects (the insects that typically are responsible for destroying crops and can threaten farmers’ livelihoods), but it is safe for people, domestic animals, fish and other wildlife. In fact, because Bt is produced naturally, it’s one of the more common pesticides used by organic farmers. Both ingredients from crops containing the Bt trait and from organic crops sprayed with Bt are safe for human and animal consumption. The EPA evaluated many years of safety data before registering Bt corn. If you’re interested, check out more information on Bt corn from the University of Minnesota.
Week of June 6, 2016
Is it true that GMOs create their own glyphosate?
The insect-protected GM crops being grown today express proteins that originate from Bacillus thuringiensis, which is why they are commonly referred to as Bt crops. These crops produce a Bt protein that is toxic only to certain types of insect pests (typically Coleopteran and Lepidopteran pests) that feed on the plants. Furthermore, these Bt proteins are non-toxic to humans and other mammals. Instead of farmers having to spray pesticides to control these pests, the Bt plants are able to protect themselves, greatly reducing the applications of insecticides to these crops.
Week of May 30, 2016
If there was a worldwide ban on glyphosate, would we be able to meet the global demand for food?
Glyphosate is a tool used by farmers to care for their crops.
At Monsanto we believe that we must make the most out of every acre, every cuerda, every hectare. For example, ten years ago, with what was produced in 100 hectares a farmer could feed one person. In 2000, with what was produced in the same hectare, a farmer could feed 4.5 people. It is expected that by 2020, farmers will need just 1 hectare to feed 5.6 people.
That is why, with a constantly growing population, we must work for better crop protection, while taking caring of our natural resources. Glyphosate is a valuable tool for us to achieve this.
Week of May 23, 2016
If Monsanto’s GM crops are a benefit to farmers & safe for consumers, who/what/why is leading the negative/fear campaign about GMOs?
Great question. We really can’t speak for people who have concerns about GMOs. But if we had to guess, we’d say that part of their concern probably stems from a lack of communication between companies like ours and the general public about GMOs over the years.
We’re working hard to do a better job at answering people’s questions about who we are and what we do, including questions about GMOs, but also questions about the other areas where we work.
Week of April 25, 2016
Does Monsanto believe intellectual property protections are adequate, or does it lobby for even more government protection?
Week of April 18, 2016
What educational programs for students do you have?
We have several youth-focused partnerships to provide young adults opportunities to build their leadership, communication and advocacy skills to address the global challenge of population growth and food security. For example, we partnered with the National 4-H Council to launch the 4-H Ag Innovators Experience — a program to promote workforce skills, knowledge of STEM fields and interest in agriculture to rural, urban and suburban youth.
Week of April 11, 2016
Do you allow any of your children or family members around any of the products you produce? If no, why not?
Yes, we’re proud of who we are as a company, and this includes the products we offer. If our friends and family members are part of the agricultural field, we would love for them to use our products. But, we’re just one of many companies who sell seeds and crop protection tools, and farmers have the choice to use whatever they think is best for them.
In regards to foods produced from GM seeds specifically, these are the same foods that we buy at grocery stores and feed to our children and families – the same foods, in other words, that anyone else eats. Plus, we serve all foods, including GMOs, in our cafeterias for employees. Check out this video that explains more.
Week of April 4, 2016
If we need GMO’s to produce enough food, why do we waste $165 billion in uneaten food every year?
Getting food to the people who need it today and working to feed the growing population of tomorrow are critical issues with no single solution or strategy. Factors such as shipping, port facilities, warehouses, and in-country shipping systems play big roles in distributing food around the world.
Having a good plan to overcome these obstacles will require companies, farmers and policymakers to work together and use every tool available. It will take more than just increased production to feed our growing population. Improving infrastructure, using natural resources more efficiently, learning smarter ways to use data, and addressing poverty will all be important parts of feeding the expected 11 billion people by 2050. Tools like big data, GMO and new hybrid seeds, precision agriculture, and soil health are all areas we’re looking at to help with the process.
You can read more about the various things we’re doing to try to contribute to finding solutions to this big challenge in our section on sustainable agriculture.
Week of March 28, 2016
Is it true that Monsanto, in collaboration with the government, prohibits farmers from cleaning farms with genetically modified seeds? And, why do you not allow farmers to save seeds?
To answer your first question, no, Monsanto does not prohibit – or collaborate to prohibit – any farm activity with any kind of crop variety. Cleaning seeds is not against the law, but specific seed cleaning activities may infringe upon a patent issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office — and thereby constitute a violation of the U.S. Plant Patent Act. In these rare instances, seed companies are within their rights to enforce their patents. You can read more about this our position on this practice here – http://monsanto.info/1RB4RlO.
To answer your second question, like many businesses, we have formal agreements with customers to ensure the best possible outcomes for everyone. When farmers choose to purchase our seeds, they agree by contract to only use the seed to produce a single commercial crop and not to save those seeds at the end of the crop season for future planting. This limitation is known to the farmer at the time the original seed is sold to them. You can read more about this here – http://monsanto.info/1ZGBp0K.
However, at the end of the day it’s up to them whether they want to keep buying our seeds or switch to a different brand. Farmers know their land and needs best, and they freely choose each year what will be the best tools, seeds and services for them.
Week of March 21, 2016
Why does Monsanto own patents on their seeds, something that is from mother nature?
Here’s the simplest way to explain it. Nature is not something that can be patented, and we are not attempting to do this.
However, inventions can be created by starting with materials that were originally found in nature and then modifying, using, or combining these materials in new ways to make new things. For example, many antibiotics were originally found in naturally occurring microbes. Scientists discovered a new use for these antibiotics in medicine and found ways to produce them in a useful manner.
We make new inventions and patent them. We put these new inventions into our seeds in order to bring new options and products to farmers. Through the continuous innovative cycle fueled in part by patents, we’re able to continue our work developing the next generation of new products to be used by farmers to ensure we can feed the world’s growing population for the long-term.
Week of March 14, 2016
Monsanto has a reputation for being litigious. How many lawsuits have you filed against individuals since 2005?
Since 1997, we’ve initiated 146 legal disputes in the U.S. and only nine of those went to trial. To put this number in perspective, we have over 225,000 U.S. farmers who are our customers. Farmers are the core of our business, so as you can see, the decision to take legal action against a customer is not one taken lightly.
We give 100% of proceeds to non-profit youth leadership initiatives in the area, so that all of the money is returned to the local farming community.That’s also true with any out-of-court settlement payments we receive. If you’re interested, you can read more about this policy on our website.
Week of February 29, 2016
Every day I read that your foods cause cancer. It is true?
Put simply, our seeds do not produce foods that cause cancer. We feed our own families food grown from our crops so we take safety very seriously. Trusted organizations such as the American Medical Association and World Health Organization agree to the long term safety of our crops thanks to the conclusions of hundreds of peer-reviewed studies. Here’s a recent Forbes article outlining the safety of our crops and an FAQ from the World Health Organization about some of the foods we help produce.
Week of February 22, 2016
How can a GMO crop with pesticides in its DNA be as healthy as a non-GMO? How is ingesting that pesticide healthy?
Some genetically modified (GM) crops have a gene from a naturally occurring bacteria called “Bt” that affects a few types of insects (the insects that typically are responsible for destroying crops and can threaten farmers’ livelihoods), but it is safe for people, domestic animals, fish and other wildlife. In fact, because Bt is produced naturally, it’s one of the more common pesticides used by organic farmers.
Both ingredients from crops containing the Bt trait and from organic crops sprayed with Bt are safe for human and animal consumption. The EPA evaluated many years of safety data before registering Bt corn. If you’re interested, check out more information on Bt corn from the University of Minnesota.
Week of February 15, 2016
What is your response to the increased number of pesticides used on genetically modified crops? Are you developing more resistant GMOs?
According to a recent USDA study, the overall use of pesticides in the U.S. has dropped dramatically since farmers started using GMO seeds. GMOs can help farmers reduce chemical sprays that protect crops from insect pests.
And one benefit of glyphosate-tolerant crops has been a reduction in tillage on fields.
For more information, check out this article in Grist by Nathanael Johnson on this topic: “In the insecticide wars, GMOs have so far been a force for good.”
Week of February 8, 2016
In GMO products, are the pesticides actually present in the seed and therefore inside of the produce?
Yes – some GMO corn, soybean, and cotton crops produce a type of proteins called “Bt proteins” that are harmful to some insects, but safe for animals and humans. Bt protein, in the form of a spray, is also used by many organic farmers to protect their crops from pests, since it’s a naturally occurring, organic substance.
The benefit of having the protein produced by the plant itself is that it can help can reduce the amount of pesticide sprayed in fields to control pests. In both cases, the Environmental Protection Agency and numerous other regulatory agencies and independent scientists have determined that these uses of Bt proteins are safe.
Here’s a link from the EPA with more information about Bt crops and Bt protein.
Week of February 1, 2016
What are the advantages and disadvantages of herbicides?
Herbicides allow us to take care of crops and allow farmers to optimize the use of their resources and time. Also, they’re used to prepare the planting area and maintain crops weed free. At Monsanto, we make sure that our products are effective and that they are reliable and safe. The herbicides that we manufacture pass rigorous studies and quality controls. Only those that have been certified as safe for the environment and human health reach the market. The disadvantages of herbicides arise at the time of application, when the recommendations of use are not strictly followed. For this reason, all our products include those recommendations in their packaging.
Week of January 25, 2016
What is carbon neutral crop production?
Carbon neutral crop production is the production of crops like corn and soybeans using practices and innovations that enable soil to absorb and hold greenhouse gases equal to or greater than the total amount emitted from growing those crops. Consequently, crops grown in this way help to mitigate climate change. In brief, carbon neutrality is achieved when enough soil organic carbon is accumulated to compensate for (i.e., offset) the greenhouse gas emissions created by pesticide, fertilizer and fuel use on the farm, and in the production and transportation of inputs like fertilizer.
Week of January 18, 2016
How does agriculture contribute to climate change?
Agriculture directly emits greenhouse gas emissions in the form of methane from livestock production, nitrous oxide from fertilizer and manure use and carbon from tilling the soil the operation of farming equipment and the production and use of inputs like fertilizer and pesticides. However, the largest source of atmospheric carbon related to farming occurs when agricultural expansion leads to deforestation or draining of wetlands, which reduces the ability of the natural ecosystem to absorb and store carbon. On the other hand, farmers also help combat climate change through carbon neutral agricultural practices. Find out more here.
Week of January 11, 2016
Which are the seeds that Monsanto sells? Could specify which are genetically modified and which are organic?
Monsanto is a company that sells seeds for fruits, vegetables and key crops such as corn, soybeans and cotton. We also work with farmers to achieve productive and sustainable agricultural solutions. We offer conventional and biotech seeds with excellent performance and technologies that enable lasting and more nutritious crops. In our genetically modified crops, such as corn, cotton and soy, there is better weed control, in which herbicides can be used with less toxicity and residuals. Our goal is for farmers to produce more, using less inputs, and achieve greater environmental preservation.
Moreover, we use conventional breeding methods in the case of fruits and vegetables seeds. Through Seminis, a vegetable production company, we seek to improve access to safe and nutritious food. Seminis uses conventional breeding to develop vegetables and fruits. If you want to know more about our company visit us at: discover.monsanto.com/discover-us/.
Week of January 4, 2016
Why are there so many documentaries discrediting Monsanto?
Often times, there are third-party sources that expose opinions about our company, but it is likely that in most cases they do not know in depth what we do, and the effort and dedication we invest in our work.
But we also recognize our part. We spent a lot of time communicating only with farmers and have set aside communication with consumers like you. That is why we launched several initiatives for dialogue, not only about us but also to talk about the issues that matter to you.
If you like to ask any questions, we are here to converse. We invite you to know more about us at discover.monsanto.com/discover-us/.
Week of December 28, 2015
Do you know of any bourbon made with GM corn? I’ve been trying to come up with a mixed drink that I can justify calling a Monsanto.
Very interesting question! The best way to find out is to ask bourbon brands directly. But, for your reference, 93 percent of corn grown in the United States in 2014 was grown using genetically modified seeds.
So, if the bourbon isn’t labeled “organic” or “GMO free,” it could have been made with GM corn.
Week of December 21, 2015
Are genetically engineered foods sustainable?
Great question. The answer is yes – foods that use genetically engineered crops are sustainable. In fact, sustainability is one of the cornerstones of our business. We are committed to developing seeds that can use water more efficiently, and other seeds that help prevent pest infestation of crops, ultimately helping to limit the amount of topical pesticides needed.
By enabling farmers do more with fewer resources, we’re confident that together, we can all help feed the world’s growing population, and ensure everyone has access to a more nutritious and well-balanced plate.
Week of December 14, 2015
What does your team of scientists do?
Here at Monsanto we’re working with others to bring a broad range of solutions to the table to help tackle some of the big challenges facing our planet, and our scientists are involved in all aspects of this work. We have dietitians, medical doctors, entomologists, agricultural and food scientists, plant scientists, toxicologists and many more on staff.
They help farmers grow enough food to feed our growing global population, making that food more accessible and using fewer precious natural resources. They contribute research that allows us to produce seeds for fruits, vegetables and key crops that help farmers to produce abundant and nutritious food and use water and other important resources more efficiently. Our scientists focus their efforts on both the research and development of new products and the review, testing and assessments of those products to ensure their safety. And finally, our scientists work to find sustainable solutions for soil health, help farmers use data to improve farming practices and conserve natural resources, and provide crop protection products to minimize damage from pests and disease.
Week of December 7, 2015
What steps are you actually taking toward solving world hunger besides producing GMO’s?
Addressing a challenge like world hunger requires a systemic approach and all the tools that are available. Besides biotechnology, we contribute to a number of initiatives to address hunger around the world, such as Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA), that aims to enhance food security in Sub-Saharan Africa through developing and deploying non-biotech water-efficient maize royalty-free to the smallholder farmers there.
When it comes to seeds, we invest just as much in creating new varieties of seeds through traditional breeding as we invest in trying to develop GMO traits. We also work on helping farmers improve soil health, and use data about rainfall patterns to conserve resources. You can read more about the various things we’re doing to try to contribute to finding solutions to this big challenge in our section on sustainable agriculture.
Week of November 30, 2015
What products has Monsanto brought to the table to help mitigate climate change?
Monsanto develops highly productive crop varieties that enable farmers to produce more crops from existing farmland while reducing emissions per acre of land. We also provide weed control solutions that reduce the need for tillage and decrease the number of times farmers need to enter the field to spray their crops which helps maintain carbon in the soil. Data analytics and precision agriculture techniques enable farmers to more precisely apply fertilizer, use less fuel and water and maximize productivity from existing land.
Week of November 23, 2015
Are GMOs contaminating organic food crops?
The proper management of organic, conventional and GM seeds is an important issue.
The coexistence of multiple production methods – organic, conventional and GM – is not a new concept. Farmers have been producing different types of crops next to one another before and since GM seeds were first introduced in 1996, and they work hard every day managing their farms to ensure each crop meets the appropriate marketing requirements.
Don Cameron, a farmer outside of Fresno, CA, grows conventional and GM seeds on the same farm. We asked Don to answer this question, and he explains what he does at the farm-level to avoid pollination from surrounding crops, and how different crop management systems play a role.
You can review Don’s full response here.
Clean seeds are a concern for organic farmers before planting, as well as pollen drift from neighboring fields during cultivation. As Don explains, “Organic does not equal zero presence of a GM trait. Low-level presence of a GM trait in organic production is allowed as long as the grower has followed the organic process necessary for organic production.”
Mary Mertz also farms with a combination of seed types—conventional and GM—and happens to do so next door to an organic farm. Mary states, “Organic and conventional farmers are all in the food production business together. We need to work together and respect each other’s farming practices. This entails communication, heightened awareness of weather conditions and being solution-oriented to prevent problems from occurring in the first place.”
You can read her full response here.
Additionally, a report from the American Seed Trade Association explains that, “Building upon many generations of experience, coexistence involves agricultural best practices that bring the greatest benefit to all along the agricultural value chain from seed developers to farmers and from retailers to consumers — from field to fork.” The report reminds us that, “The coexistence of various production methods is not a new concept to the agricultural community,” and that, “Farmers are accustomed to producing different crops next to one another.” Read the full report for more information on the set of tools used to facilitate coexistence in the seed industry.
NPR also explores the comingling of organic and GM seeds in this story and explains that, “Organic producers typically do try to minimize the presence of GMOs, because their customers don’t want them. It’s usually not too hard to keep contamination to a very low level.”
Learn more from about the production, handling and labeling of organic products from the USDA’s National Organic Program.
For additional information on this topic, we recommend the following responses:
- Will cross-pollination effect other non-GMO crops? And if there are two fields next to each other, one GMO and one non-GMO; what is the likelihood of them cross-pollinating?
Answered by Scott Mundell: http://gmoanswers.com/ask/will-cross-pollination-effect-other-non-gmo-crops-and-if-there-are-two-fields-next-each-other
- How does GMO manufacturers deal with DRIFTING? Drifting occurs when patented GMO seeds blow in an organic farmer’s crop and contaminate it.
Answered by Scott Mundell: http://gmoanswers.com/ask/how-does-gmo-manufacturers-deal-drifting-drifting-occurs-when-patented-gmo-seeds-blow-organic
- I only buy my family organic apples and Im worried that the new GMO apple will contaminate all other apples, including organic ones.
Answered by Neal Carter: http://gmoanswers.com/ask/i-only-buy-my-family-organic-apples-and-im-worried-new-gmo-apple-will-contaminate-all-other
- What do you do when GMO seed gets blown on to a farm where the farmer was using non-GMO seed?
Answered by Kelly Clauss: http://gmoanswers.com/ask/what-do-yo-do-when-gmo-seed-gets-blown-farm-where-farmer-was-using-non-gmo-seed-famers-crop-then
Week of November 16, 2015
Why aren’t long-term health studies conducted on GM plants?
This might surprise you, but long-term health studies have been conducted on GMOs. Aside from the fact that GM foods have a long, safe track record (17 years in the marketplace), GM crops are repeatedly and extensively tested for consumer and environmental safety, and those tests are reviewed in the U.S. by the Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration, and similar organizations internationally. Tests are conducted by both industry experts and independent organizations. This link lists 1,785 GMO safety studies, including long-term studies, many of which you can download, and this link will take you to a list of 610 more.
Furthermore, the European Union, which strictly regulates GM crops, has also conducted numerous studies on the safety of GMOs. You can find the results of those studies here. According to the European Commission, “the main conclusion, after more than 130 research projects covering a period of more than 25 years of research and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than, e.g., conventionalplant breeding technologies.”
In fact, every major scientific body and regulatory agency in the world has reviewed the research about GMOs and openly declared crop biotechnology and the foods currently available for sale to be safe.
Denneal Jamison McClung, associate director, UC Davis Biotechnology Program, also provides a full response on this topichere, where she explains that “from their introduction in 1996 until now, scientists have found, through repeated and extensive testing, that GMO foods are no more risky than comparable non-GMO foods, nor do they differ in nutritional value.”
You’ll find more discussion about long-term studies of GMOs here:
- Are GMOs tested beyond 90 days by the agro companies? Meaning, do you report data on test conducted beyond 90 days?
Answered by Bryan Delaney http://gmoanswers.com/ask/are-gmos-tested-beyond-90-days-agro-companies-meaning-do-you-report-data-test-conducted-beyond
- Are there any long term (30+ years) studies done on the full spectrum ecological impact of transgenic GMO organisms?
Answered by Bruce M. Chassy http://gmoanswers.com/ask/are-there-any-long-term-30-years-studies-done-full-spectrum-ecological-impact-transgenic-gmo
- As you know, many anti-GMO people claim that GM crops are lack of long-term study on animal’s health. To believe GMO is safe enough, I would like to know 3 things; How long is the longest study on long-term effects for animals? How can I reach to the data? What makes such kind of people to believe that there is no long-term study?
Answered by Bryan Delaney, Ph.D. http://gmoanswers.com/ask/you-know-many-anti-gmo-people-claim-gm-crops-are-lack-long-term-study-animals-health-believe-gmo
- How did the biotech industry decide that ‘90-days’ would be the norm, or the standard time-frame for testing?
Answered by Harold E. Cohen, R.Ph., B.S., B.Ph. http://gmoanswers.com/ask/how-did-biotech-industry-decide-‘90-days’-would-be-norm-or-standard-time-frame-testing-and-how
- Why has there never been a clinically controlled independent human feeding trial?
Answered by Bruce M. Chassy http://gmoanswers.com/ask/why-has-there-never-been-clinically-controlled-independent-human-feeding-trial-if-i-were-come
Week of November 9, 2015
Are GMOs Increasing the Price of Food?
While the cost of food is impacted by various factors (the price of oil affects transportation costs; temperature changes can cause drought; etc.), GMOs play an important role in keeping those prices as low as possible. It’s estimated that corn-based products would be priced 6 percent higher and soybean-based products would be 10 percent higher if GM crops were not grown, according to a 2010 study by Graham Brookes et al.
But what role, exactly, does biotech play in the cost of food?
We reached out to Graham, who is an agricultural economist at PG Economics Ltd., U.K., to explain more about the complicated topic of food cost and explore the role GMOs play in the global food economy.
Key points from Graham’s response include:
- “The [GM] technology adopted to date has largely been productivity-enhancing and cost-reducing technology. This means additional global production has arisen from use of the technology, equal to an extra 122 million tonnes of soybeans, 237 million tonnes of corn, 18 million tonnes of cotton lint and 6.6 million tonnes of canola in the period 1996–2012.”
- “[T]he real price of food and feed products has fallen consistently during the last 50 years. This has come about not ‘out of the blue’ but from enormous improvements in productivity by producers. These productivity improvements have arisen from the adoption of new technologies and techniques.”
Read his full response here.
Week of November 2, 2015
Do GMOs Cause Cancer?
This is an extremely important question. Numerous questions similar to this and related topics have been submitted to GMO Answers, including questions about reports claiming that glyphosate causes breast cancer and about a Séralini study (now retracted) claiming GMOs caused cancer in rats, among others.
We know that consumers have concerns, so we reached out to Dr. Kevin Folta, University of Florida interim chairman and associate professor, Horticultural Sciences Department, for an answer. “The short answer is no, there is absolutely zero reputable evidence that GMO foods cause cancer,” he writes.
Additionally, the health and safety of GMOs have been validated by many independent scientists and organizations around the world. For example, there are over 1,080 studies about the health and safety of GMOs, and a decade of GMO research, funded by the European Union, that finds that GMOs pose no greater risk than their conventional counterparts can be found here: http://ec.europa.eu/research/biosociety/pdf/a_decade_of_eu-funded_gmo_research.pdf.
In addition to Dr. Folta’s response, this study reviews seven cohort studies and 14 case studies and finds that there is “no consistent pattern of positive associations indicating a causal relationship between total cancer (in adults or children) or any site-specific cancer and exposure to glyphosate.”
Week of October 26, 2015
Why is Monsanto to keep selling Pesticide-Coated Seeds although the EPA says they don’t help yields and, may harm bees? Where’s precaution?
When seed treatment products are properly used, they are effective and are not a threat to honey bees and other pollinators that consume pollen and nectar from treated crops. Seed treatments can also help bees by reducing the potential for unintended exposures. As Jerry Hayes –Monsanto’s honey bee health lead – neonicotinoids, a class of insecticide used to protect seeds, help reduce agricultural crop spraying, and banning them could do more harm than good for bee health.
EPA recently issued a preliminary review of the benefits of neonicotinoid seed treatments for soybean crops. The report is open for public comment until Dec. 22, 2014, and we’re evaluating it and encouraging farmers to submit comments describing their experience with neonicotinoid seed treatments for soybean. It is important for famers to share their perspective because they have first-hand knowledge of what technologies work best for their crops and growing conditions. Because neonicotinoid seed treatments are not a threat to honey bees when properly used, and because growers recognize the value of protecting their crops early in the growing season, we currently plan to continue offering seed treatment products to our customers.
Academic researchers have been sharing their views with EPA as well. In particular, researchers from the Southern United States have described results of their studies demonstrating significant soybean yield benefits associated with using neonicotinoid seed treatments.
Recently, farmers in Europe lost the option of using neonicotinoid seed treatmentsand some are struggling to control pests. Their options are limited and involve either spraying insecticides or replanting failed crops.
As far as honey bees, research is still being done to determine all the factors that contribute to honey bee decline, which may include Varroa mites, diseases, poor nutrition, intentional and unintentional pesticide exposures and challenging weather conditions. We’re working with others through several partnerships to improve honey bee nutrition, invest in research to develop less harmful treatments for Varroa mites and viruses, communicate best management practices in the use of pesticides and support the economic empowerment of beekeepers. We truly care about honey bee health and are working to ensure that our practices do no harm.
Week of October 19, 2015
A lot of my friends say Monsanto is contributing to a monoculture. That sounds bad. What does that mean? Is it true?
The term monoculture refers to the practice of growing a single crop in a given field year after year. This article from Steve Savage, “Do GMO Crops Foster Monoculture?” provides an overview of the topic of monoculture in farming and Midwestern cropping systems. As Mr. Savage notes, many farmers in the Midwest use a corn-soybean rotation in their fields, meaning that one year they plant corn on a acre of land and the next year, they plant soybeans. Crop rotation helps keep plant diseases and insects in check and can help build soil quality. Wheat and other crops occasionally are a part of a crop rotation as well. Some farmers decide to grow only one kind of crop, such as corn or wheat, on his or her land for many reasons, including the ability to efficiently grow and harvest that particular crop.
We provide thousands of crop varieties to farmers, as well as an assortment of vegetable seeds, and they ultimately pick the seeds that will grow best in their fields.
Week of October 12, 2015
Why do you need to modify the crops in the first place? Also how can you measure the effects of GMOs when nearly everyone eats them?
Farmers have been modifying crops since the beginning of time. Early farmers would take the seeds from their best crops, and use those seeds rather the ones that didn’t grow as well. For example, the corn we enjoy today was smaller than the palm of your hand more than 10,000 years ago. This seasoned idea is at the heart of what we do—helping farmers make the most out of every crop, every season. Fortunately, modern technology helps us go through the process more efficiently than early farmers could, and helps us address many of the other challenges that farmers face such as pest invasions and limited resources. By helping farmers do more with less, we’re better able to address our greater goal of making a balanced plate available to everyone, no matter where they live. And with our population approaching 9 billion by 2050, we’re more committed than ever to seeing this through.
When it comes to the safety of GMOs, thousands of long-term independent studies continue to demonstrate they aren’t any less safe than non-GMO foods. Additionally, the American Medical Association, World Health Organization, FDA and USDA have also confirmed the safety of foods containing GMOs.
Week of October 5, 2015
Is it true Monsanto is using components of agent orange in its new line of herbicides to help control glyphosate-resistant weeds?
No, we do not use any components of Agent Orange in any of our herbicides. One of our competitors, Dow AgroSciences, is planning to launch Enlist (TM) Corn, which has tolerance to 2,4-D choline and glyphosate herbicides.
However, to be clear, the Dow AgroSciences 2,4-D herbicide is not the same as Agent Orange.
Week of September 28, 2015
Are GMOs the ones that produce an allergic reaction to food?
The short answer to your question is no, GMOs do not cause food allergies. While we can’t speak for the industry as a whole in terms of how safeguards are created at one company versus another, we want you to know that here at Monsanto, as we’re developing a new product, if any of the product’s qualities poses a known potential allergic reaction, we do not place that product on the market. And we also want you to know that when it comes to nutrition, GMOs aren’t different from non-GMOs.
Week of September 21, 2015
Can you please explain Monsanto v. Schmeiser?
Monsanto v. Schmeiser plays a large role in one of the top myths about GMOs, as outlined in this NPR article.
In 1999, Monsanto sued Canadian canola farmer Percy Schmeiser for patent violation after unlicensed Roundup-tolerant canola was found growing on his farm. Schmeiser had never purchased seeds from Monsanto, and testified that canola pollen had either been carried by insects or the wind from miles away, or blown into his field from a passing truck. This was not the case, as it was revealed that he had actually sprayed Roundup on approximately three acres of the field closest to a neighbor’s Roundup Ready canola. When Schmeiser harvested the field, months later, he kept seed from that part of the field and used it for planting the next year.
We have never sued a farmer who ended up with trace amounts of our seeds or traits in their field by accident, and we have made a public commitment that we never will. You can read more about our commitment here, or visit this page on our website for more information about this case.
Week of September 14, 2015
Since the beginning of GMO use, has the use of pesticides increased or decresed?
According to a recent USDA study, the overall use of insecticides in the U.S. has dropped dramatically since farmers started using GMO crops.
And farmers who grow GMO crops have been able to switch to glyphosate – an herbicide significantly less toxic than traditional herbicides.
In an older Grist article, Nathanael Johnson discusses how GMOs have been a force for good in the “insecticide wars.”
Week of September 7, 2015
Does Monsanto have a problem with farmers saving seed from their crops planted with seed purchased from Monsanto and if so, why?
Like many businesses, we have written agreements with our customers to clarify our product offerings and provide transparency regarding the responsibilities that come with access to and use of our products. The vast majority of our farmer customers comply with their agreements, and they want us to make sure others are doing the same – otherwise, it’s not a level playing field for them. Occasionally we learn of someone who does not follow the agreed terms of sale and use and we work with them discreetly to resolve any issues that we find. Very rarely, and only as a last resort, we end up going to court on these matters if we are unable to resolve the issues one-on-one. In the event the matter goes to a trial, we give 100% of what we collect to nonprofit youth leadership initiatives in the area, so that all of the money is returned to the local farming community. That’s also true with any out-of-court settlement payments we receive.
Week of August 31, 2015
What is Monsanto doing to help “balance” meals? do you support using whole wheat flour or whole grain rice, opposed to bleached/stripped?
We produce seeds – GMO and non-GMO – that ultimately contribute to the fruits and vegetables on our tables, the protein on our plates and a broad range of other foods at the grocery store that make a balanced plate more accessible. For example, our teams have bred dozens of melon varieties that differ in shape, color and pattern to reflect different preferences and eating habits around the world. GMO seeds, specifically, make it more likely for more of a farmer’s crop to make it to harvest and reach families everywhere. Check out what we’re doing to bring a broad range of solutions to help nourish our growing world.
To answer your second question, we support consumers’ choice in using and buying what is best for themselves and their families. Everyone makes personal choices about what foods they do, or do not eat, and there are unlimited, individual reasons behind these choices.
Week of August 24, 2015
Who/what is Monsanto?
Monsanto is committed to bringing a broad range of solutions to help nourish our growing world. We produce seeds for fruits, vegetables and key crops – such as corn, soybeans, and cotton. We work to find sustainable solutions for soil health and help farmers use data to improve farming practices and conserve natural resources, while providing crop protection products to minimize damage from pests and disease so that farmers have better harvests. Through programs and partnerships, we collaborate with farmers, researchers, nonprofit organizations, universities and others to help tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges related to agriculture, food and nutrition.
Week of August 17, 2015
Is glyphosate safe?
Glyphosate-based herbicides are one of the most thoroughly tested in the world. Their history of safe use is supported by one of the most extensive worldwide human health, crop residue and environmental databases ever compiled on a pesticide product. The U.S. EPA assigns glyphosate to the lowest category E, indicating glyphosate does not pose a cancer risk to humans. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment recommended the continued use of glyphosate for the European Union, concluding that there is no cause-and-effect link between glyphosate exposure and cancer. Regardless of the decision rendered by IARC, all glyphosate-based herbicides on the market today meet rigorous standards of approval set by regulatory and health authorities to protect the public, including infants and children.
Week of August 10, 2015
Is biodiversity affected by crops that have been genetically modified?
GM crops can help boost biodiversity by reducing agriculture’s impacts on the land. For example, farmers using GM crops can often be more efficient with their resources, growing food on less land, reducing the need to convert more land for farming.
Check out how we are working alongside farmers, consumers, universities, nonprofits and others to bring diverse perspectives to preserve biodiversity.
Week of August 3, 2015
When a seed is genetically modified are genes from other plant species added? How does genetic modification work?
To answer your first question, yes, one way of genetically modifying seeds is to take genes from one plant and adapt them to another plant. In addition to plant genes, scientists can also use bacteria and fungi. We do this so we can take a beneficial trait that helps a living thing thrive in nature — like an ability to use water efficiently, for example — and adapt that trait to another plant so that it can better survive in its environment. The actual scientific process is called agrobacterium transfer, and if you’re interested in learning more about some of the specifics, check out this link from GMO Answers that discusses the many methods of plant breeding.
Week of July 27, 2015
Is it safe to feed my kids GMOs?
Absolutely! Many of us here at Monsanto are parents – we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and studying GMOs, and we feel confident feeding them to our kids. A big part of that confidence comes from knowing about all the independent experts who’ve looked at GMOs have concluded that they’re as safe as other foods. That includes groups like the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization, as well as government agencies like the Food and Drug Administration. If you’re interested, you can read more about what those groups have to say on the issue here.
Week of July 20, 2015
How does Monsanto protect the health of honeybees?
Honey bees are incredibly important to the environment, and to our business. In fact, many of the foods and beverages we enjoy every day wouldn’t be available without honey bees. Knowing this, we’ve partnered with experts through the Honey Bee Health Coalition, and have our own honeybee experts on staff.
Together, we’re working toward finding a solution for the leading cause of the decline in bee populations—the parasitic Varroa mite. For a deeper look into our commitment to improving bee health, check out this video response to a similar Conversation question.
Week of July 13, 2015
How does Monsanto interface with farmers to ensure a proper balance of chemicals used in the planting process?
Our sales reps and agronomists in the field work closely with farmers to make sure that all products are used safely and as intended. We also work with university extension specialists to help them help farmers. Farmers often tour our facilities, attend conferences, and participate in company meetings to learn how to use our products safely and efficiently. Find out more in this video.
Week of July 6, 2015
What is the difference between a Hybrid seed and a GM Seed?
The main difference is the process used to create the seed.
Hybrid seeds are created by traditionally breeding together two different plants to create a third new plant, known as the hybrid. An example is the Honeycrisp apple, developed through the University of Minnesota’s apple breeding program. The Honeycrisp is a hybrid produced by breeding two different apples to create a new, crisper and juicier type of apple.
A GM seed is made when scientists take a beneficial trait from one living thing and adapt that trait to a new plant. For example, by adding two genes to a rice plant, rice is able to collect beta-carotene in its grains. Scientists and humanitarians believe this new type of rice, called Golden Rice, can increase Vitamin A in people’s diets, helping to prevent childhood blindness; check out more about the Golden Rice Project here.
Week of June 29, 2015
What is Monsanto’s next big focus for food innovation?
We’re working with partners on making food production more efficient to feed a growing population. For example, because changing climate continues to present a problem for farmers, we’re focused on working to help develop new tools that analyze weather, soil, and water data to help farmers make informed decisions on planting and resource management on their farms. Learn more about our research and development on our pipeline page.
Week of June 8, 2015
What are the changes in nutritional value when a crop is genetically modified versus a non-GM version of the same crop?
Foods made from GM crops have the same nutritional value as foods made from non-GM crops, whether it’s protein, fat, fiber, oil or carbohydrates.
The only exception is some GM crops that are being developed to provide more nutrition – like “Golden Rice” with more Vitamin A, which it’s hoped can help reduce Vitamin A deficiency in the developing world.
Week of June 1, 2015:
What is Monsanto’s view of “organic”?
We think there isn’t just one solution when it comes to addressing big global challenges like sustainable food production. Instead, it’s going to take a lot of different tools and approaches. That includes organic farming, and we support organic farming. We provide a range of non-GMO seeds for fruits and veggies like tomatoes, melons and bell peppers, and many of our customers for those seeds are organic farmers.
If you’re interested, Dr. Robb Fraley, Monsanto’s Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, wrote a piece in The Huffington Post about feeding the world with both GMOs and organically produced food.