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Friday, June 21
The Indiana Daily Student

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Bioengineered food on the rise

India Protest

The Supreme Court decided to hear its first genetically modified crop case last week when a federal court banned Monsanto Co. from selling genetically engineered alfalfa seeds.
The case brought up an on-going worldwide debate about the environmental and health impacts of GM food.

GM crops have been altered in a way that does not occur with natural conditions. Latest improvements in bioengineering give scientists the opportunity to select certain genes from one organism and apply them to another to get the desired trait.

The question, however, remains whether consumers should be able to identify what products are genetically altered. Unlike European nations, the U.S. law does not require labeling for GM products.

Europe and Canada banned milk with Monsanto-manufactured rBGH, a genetically engineered hormone to increase milk productivity in cows.

Jacob Goodman, manager of Bloomingfoods Coop, said there is no guarantee that one can find 100 percent natural food.

GM crops are preferred by farmers because of their resistance to pests, disease and harsh environmental conditions.

Greg Reynolds, a farmer from Minnesota, said one of the reasons for the widespread adoption of GM crops is that they grow more easily and the fields look nicer without the unwanted weeds.

Indiana, one of the largest farm states in the country, is now planting more than seven times more genetically adopted corn than it did in 2000, according to USDA data.

Nathan Mosier, a Purdue University  agriculture and bioengineering professor, said in an e-mail that such traits improve crop yields and make the processing of inedible plant material easier and more economical to convert to energy. However, he mentions the possible negative impacts of genetically engineered crops.

“There are some real environmental concerns that should be continued to be addressed,” Mosier said.

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