Is GMO Food and Organic Food an Either/Or Proposition?

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Benefits of GMO Foods Versus Organic Food featured in Conversations about Plant Biotechnology Video Available Online

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Is there one that is better than the others when it comes to finding good and nutritious food? Let's find out

Today, the Conversations about Plant Biotechnology Web site expanded its video offering to include biotech videos produced by other organizations. The first addition -- "What's for Lunch?" -- addresses consumer concerns about food choices and was produced by the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC).

This video about the benefits of GMO foods versus organic food is a humorous and entertaining look at how food is grown and produced. It is aimed at those who are uncertain about the differences between organic, genetically modified (GMO) and conventional food production methods.

"Is there one that is better than the others when it comes to finding good and nutritious food? Let's find out," says an improv comic who narrates the video and interviews "the man on the street" to capture the varied opinions and perceptions of consumers.

Dr. Bruce Chassy from the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois is one of three nutrition and food safety experts featured in the video. Chassy addresses the misperception that the benefits of organic foods include being better or more nutritious than conventional or GMO foods. "There is no evidence that it's more nutritious. There's no evidence that it's more safe. It's not sustainable. It's not any healthier," says Dr. Chassy.

Informed decisions about food increasingly require consumers to have a good understanding of nutrition, food science and, sometimes, even agricultural production systems. For example, products that are organic, conventional and genetically modified all share the same observable physical characteristics, and differ only in the process through which they have been produced or grown.

To achieve recognized organic labels, farmers must conform to a strict agricultural system that minimizes the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators and livestock feed additives. In addition, food that is labeled organic places limits on genetically modified ingredients.

While conventional farming systems vary from farm to farm and from country to country, a farmer's options are typically limited only by regulations set by governing agencies such as the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A biotech farmer is simply a conventional farmer that chooses to plant a crop variety developed or bred through biotechnology methods.

"For us, organic, biotech and conventional are all management systems, and you use them in terms of balance in how it fits into your operation," says Jennie Schmidt, a registered dietitian and farmer who grows both organic and biotech crops. "I'm comfortable with knowing that farmers are good stewards of what they're doing. And therefore, that the food that is raised conventionally or through biotech is safe."

The video concludes that the only choice that matters is the healthful, nutritious one. "For many people, organic agriculture and food biotechnology is an either or proposition. And in actuality, all of these food processes produce foods that are healthy and of benefit," says dietitian Mary Lee Chin, M.S., R.D., who is a health and nutrition communications consultant.

"What's for Lunch" - the benefits of GMO foods versus organic food video - can be viewed, downloaded or embedded into another Web site from the Conversations about Plant Biotechnology Web site. In addition, visitors to the Web site can view videos capturing the opinions of other experts about the safety of genetically modified foods.

The Conversations about Plant Biotechnology is designed to give a voice and a face to the farmers and families who grow GM crops and the experts who research and study the benefits of biotechnology in agriculture. The Web site contains more than 70 two- to three-minute, candid, straightforward and compelling video segments with the people who know the technology best. The Web site is hosted by Monsanto Company -- a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality.

Contact:
Ranjana Smetacek
Phone: (314) 694-2642
Fax: (314) 694-4228
ranjana.smetacek @ monsanto.com

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