imgres-2GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism.  When we discuss products that are GMO it is farm crops have had their DNA altered.  The reasoning behind altering the DNA of crops such as corn, soybeans and other crops was that it the farmers would be able to increase crop yields for more mouths to feed.

There has been a lot of conversation around the GMO market as well as reactions such as the burgeoning non-GMO market of crops including the organic market.  I am an investor in Mercaris, an online trading platform for these commodities and this market continues to grow.  Consumers are asking questions around GM products.  They want to be informed about what exactly they are eating. They are wondering why they are hearing more and more about people around them getting cancer, they are wondering if what they are eating is healthy, they are wondering if all the drugs put into these crops (and animals) are making us immune to antibiotics.

It seems that there is more information coming out these days around pharmaceutical companies such as Monsato and if they are really helping us or hurting us.  I could go off on the desire for these companies looking to suppress cannabis products to milk that hasn’t been pasteurized but that is for another time.

The NY Times just did an in-depth story on GM crops for the past 20 years in the states vs Europe.  France has stuck with the belief that do not mess with mother nature.  They question the use of GM as well as herbicides.  There is no doubt that the world population is growing and we must continue to be innovative to feed all those mouths and insure that farms are profitable businesses yet do we really know what the long tail of chemicals and GM is?

Here is what I do know.  We spend a lot of time in France.  They don’t have the obesity problems like we do in the US.  They don’t have the major gluten issues that we have here because their grains are processed differently.  The majority of France has a different relationship with food than we do here.  You know you are eating well no matter what you eat when you are in France and other parts of Europe.

I would like to see a lot more research into the realities of our crops when it comes to health.

Comments (Archived):

  1. TanyaMonteiro

    if you’ve not seen it yet, I recommend GMO OMG the movie.

  2. awaldstein

    There are at least three pieces to this:-Yes the research is not as methodical as it needs to be. It will never be conclusive if Monsanto is funding it. -It is disgusting that Monsanto has spent tens of millions to fight GMO labelling. That makes me suspect of them and rightly so.-Certification in food goods for Organic, GMO and the like is useful but it is both horridly expensive for the producer and so based on compromise and ambiguities that honestly, is not that helpful.I only buy wine made from organic grapes with no additives. Certs are useless but the supply chain of information makes the retailer responsible for monitoring this transparency.Works for wine. Could in some variation work for food as well.I applaud the work of your investment btw. Close to my heart.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Great 3 additions.

      1. awaldstein

        For a tech guy i think and know a lot about the food biz.I should do some advising in that as I”m the perfect example of bringing an outside point of view.

        1. Gotham Gal

          yes you are.

    2. Susan Rubinsky


  3. Rohan

    I think there needs to be a ton more research on this. However, GMs are often given a much worse rep than justified. For example, most of the world’s bananas, globally, are genetically modified. They wouldn’t exist in such scale if it wasn’t for the modification.My sense, and I might be wrong, is that most of the obesity in the states has to do with sugar over gmos.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I am not convinced it has to do with sugar. Obesity was not widespread when I was growing up and there was plenty of sugar.

      1. Rohan

        Fair enough. I still wonder if processed sugar has gone up a lot more today versus then. But, then again, we’re in need of good research.. and it is particularly hard to do that with diet and food because of the number of variables involved!— <http:“”/> – *Never failure, only learning and never older, only better..*

      2. awaldstein

        I know you are right on this.

  4. Susan Rubinsky

    This is one of my favorite topics! But I have a deadline. Maybe I’ll get back here over the weekend…

  5. JLM

    .The issue of GMOs is one of those that attracts a certain sort of uninformed and inflammatory hysteria. It is, at the end of the day, all about science. For some reason, the inflammatory left does not embrace science very well particularly when it does not support one’s biases.As an example, Pew ran a survey in 2014 in which 88% of scientists thought GMO was perfectly safe while only 37% of the public thought they were safe. The scientists were basing their opinions on SCIENCE while the general public was basing their opinions on the NYT and cocktail parties.All plants are subject to genetic modification. Mother Nature does it over a longer period of time than gene engineers and we call that evolution. Farmers have been doing something similar when they gather seeds from their most robust plants and use them for the next year’s crop. Pot growers gather seed from their most prolific producers and, thereby, engineer the output of their future crops.There are some very innocent exemplars of genetic modification which have nothing whatsoever to do with the food supply — as an example cotton has been modified to enhance its disease resistance and thereby dramatically reduce the amount of chemicals used in its production. We do not eat cotton.Then, there are characteristics which have nothing to do with herbicides or disease resistance such as the Flavr Savr tomato (1992) which was modified to enhance its firmness allowing tomatoes to be vine ripened rather than picked and shipped while green to ripen enroute.Pineapples were modified to contain more lycopene a substance that fights cancer in humans.Animals can be modified to resist diseases (chickens can be modified to be less susceptible to avian flu thereby improving the quality of the food supply and safeguarding humans) and salmon can be modified to grow faster.The process itself is not threatening and consists of altering a gene — which is part of the DNA of any living organism — by inserting a fragment of a gene which contains the desirable trait to be tacked onto the host DNA. The technique has become so refined as to earn the moniker of “genome editing” or “molecular scissors.”This is science.This process is exactly how Mother Nature operates when a bacteria or virus alters its DNA to resist whatever treatment is being used to counter its negative impacts on humans.Where the controversy lies is when Monsanto began to use gene editing or swapping to make crops resistant to glyphosate. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in RoundUp and other weed killing chemicals. RoundUp Ready crops are able to be sprayed with only the weeds being killed while the RoundUp Ready crop is not impacted because its DNA has been altered to withstand and resist glyphosate.RoundUp is a very inexpensive weed killer which is very effective. When weeds are killed, less fertilizer and water can be used on the crops which is primarily an economic benefit.GMO crops have been around for more than two decades and the Europeans are far ahead of us on this subject. The European Union commissioned a study which concluded “essentially there is no substantial difference between GM and non-GM crops in terms of either food safety or environmental impact.”Having said all of the above, GMO foods should be labelled and should explain exactly what genes have been modified and to what end.This is science but it is being met with hysteria.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. awaldstein

      Actually not at all.This is science i agree. And incomplete science as well.But this is a concerned population that sees the major supplier of GMO product throwing huge amounts of resources to fight GMO labeling laws.That is in itself reason for a response.It is not hysteria that makes Monsanto suspiciously complicit and the originator of concern. It is their actions themselves.

      1. JLM

        .As I stated, the labeling of GMO products and the manner in which they have been genetically modified is something that SHOULD be done. It is a legislative and administrative issue, not a science issue.The science of GMO is not troubling though it does bear watching as does anything related to the food supply.The hysteria is in the opposition to GMO rather than focusing solely on the issue of labeling.The meat industry went through a similar bit of hysteria in COOL — country of origin labelling. In 2013, COOl was passed and in 2015, it was repealed.The WTO had opined that COOl unfairly discriminated against meat imports thereby giving an advantage to domestic meat producers. I am at a loss to determine why a simple recitation of the facts is unfair.COOL was and is a trade issue, not a meat issue. This is a typical example upon which Trump is correct. We make bad trade deals.Before COOL was repealed, it was threatened that US meat producers would be subjected to retaliatory meat tariffs from Canada and Mexico to the tune of $3.6B. Again, a trade issue.This is the typical legal muscle that was used to allow American companies with an army of lawyers to strongarm the Congress to undo what they should have done. Congress had it right in 2013. We should know exactly where that meat is coming from. Why not?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. awaldstein

          Agree with everything here except that the hysteria of the public is not something that should be called out. They should be hysterical when suppliers are showing signs of deceit.Blaming the public is not productive. Blaming the marketplace is never productive.Who is wrong–Whole Foods is wrong because they have the muscle (maybe) and at least pretend to have the morals to stand up to Monsanto and demand labeling.So we agree in general, we don’t agree on the solution and where to press.Kinda a normal end point for us 😉

          1. JLM

            .Haha, of course hysteria should be called out. Why wouldn’t you? Hysteria is not productive or intellectually sound. It is, well, hysteria.The GMO hysteria is the idea it is about the food quality when it is really about the labeling.WF does not have the clout to muscle Monsanto/big corp farms around. Walmart may but not Whole Foods.It is not the public or the marketplace who is being called out. If it were a marketplace issue, the dollars would drive the solution.It is the GMO baiters — the Al Sharptons of GMO — who are trying to whip the public into a frenzy while conflating the real issues.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          2. awaldstein

            Great retort.I find this one interesting.And in actuality certs in the food business are a racket and problematic.The only real answer long term is transparency and the retailers themselves taking part of the responsibiltiy for the products they sell.In this case the government does a shitty job of certifying safety or I think even keeping people honest and as i know personally are a solid 5 years behind what is actually happening in the market.BTW–I smell ski season coming and it makes me anxious and happy!

          3. JLM

            .Almost everything that is wrong with the world today has at its core transparency. We are smart enough to figure stuff out if we can just get the raw facts.The problem is that if a corp farm can save $10/acre on herbicides, fertilizer, water, output — they will do it.The grocery store — one of the lousiest margin businesses in the world — will sell what it can buy cheapest to protect their margins.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  6. jason wright

    only organic food for me. twenty five years and counting. not every organic certification body is worth the packaging it’s printed on, but by carefull research and selection it’s possible to exclude most residues. Demeter is my ‘god’.