GMO or not, not an easy decision

GMO. The term surfaces everywhere nowadays. It is confusing, especially to those who have not followed the story.

First of all, GMO means Genetically Modified Organism. Another term frequently used is Genetically Engineered Organism. The two terms seem to be interchangeable and they refer to plants or seeds that have had a change in their DNA.

As one might suspect, GMO products are quite controversial. Several countries around the globe have banned not only their growing, but also their use in some common products found in the home. Corn, soy, sugar beets and a growing number of other plants have been modified in one way or another. The United States government has not gone that far. However, there are counties within several states that have banned their growing, including California where at least three counties have joined the ban. is seeking the ban on the growing of GMO seeds within Jackson County. USDA has set up boundaries that are designed to prevent cross-pollination of such products as sugar beets. They have set up areas where test plots of sugar beets can be grown. The anti-GMO group says the area is not large enough and that the growers are not respecting the boundaries set up by USDA. They also have concerns that the very use of genetically grown crops may be harmful to the human body, or to livestock when used as feed.

There is great controversy about the productivity of crops grown organically versus those grown with genetically modified seeds. Brian Comnes says that the first or second year of planting with GMO seeds may show a slight increase in productivity, but the long range picture shows there is no gain from their use.

On the other hand, the Farm Bureau, led by President Ron Bjork, is convinced that GMO products must be used to meet the needs of a growing population, not just in the U. S., but also in less prosperous, but more populous, nations.

Last week, both parties to the dispute met with Judge Harris at the court house, where the judge was to have assigned a title to the ballot measure that, if passed, would ban GMO products from Jackson County. According to Bjork, the anti-GMO group had failed to file their brief with the court, and Judge Harris put off any action for another week. He is to have the ballot title this week, and at that point, the anti-GMO group can begin collecting signatures in hopes of placing the issue in front of Jackson County voters at the earliest.

Too little is known about the issue, and those not associated with agriculture have far too little information to make an informed decision about the subject. It would be a good idea to read about the issue from several sources before making a decision.


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