Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Difference Between Hybrids And GMO

Tedious tasks like running a combine gives one time to think.  I have been thinking about this article and why some consumers are so against GMO and why some farmers are so pro GMO.

"Are genetically modified foods (commonly called GMOs) and hybrid foods the same thing? Think about it. Have you ever eaten a Honeycrisp apple? A Honeycrisp is a hybrid. Have you ever seen an organic Honeycrisp? You can buy USDA certified organic Honeycrisps, and certified organic food cannot contain GMOs.
If you follow the logic, hybrid foods and GMOs obviously can’t be the same. But, what is the difference?
Hybrid produce is created when two different varieties of a fruit or vegetable, or two different types of a fruit or vegetable, are crossed with each other. When kale is crossed with Brussels sprouts, a new vegetable called Kalettes is produced.
When compatible plants are cross-bred, new varieties are created. Sometimes this happens in nature; sometimes it happens on a farm or plantation. Grapefruits are a hybrid of a pomelo and a sweet orange. They were crossbred on plantations in the 18th century. The Honeycrisp was created under more scientific conditions at the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station's Horticultural Research Center around 1960.
No matter how a hybrid fruit or vegetables comes to be, it is not genetically modified. According to the NonGMO Project, a GMOs are “plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. These experimental combinations of genes from different species cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.”
While the creation of hybrid fruits and vegetables create a bigger variety, GMO produce does not increase the variety of fruits and vegetables available. Eighty percent of GMOs are “are engineered for herbicide tolerance.” They contain toxic chemicals that are designed to kill weeds or pests, but there has been little research done on what these chemicals do to human health. That’s why GMOs are controversial.
If you’ve been eating grapefruits or Honeycrisps or even Kalettes, go ahead and keep on eating them. There is no health risk in eating a hybrid. If you regularly consume GMO foods, however, you might want to learn more about them. A good place to start is MNN’s GMO page."

This stuff gets carried on without explanation or understanding.

GMO can only be created by injecting DNA from a different specie via gun, virus or bacteria, all of which has consequences.

That does not mean GMO is less superior, it just means it is different than hybrids or natural selection.

Many of my agricultural friends do not want to admit this.

Ed Winkle


  1. Maybe my view is too simplistic but I feel that roundup resistant canola would have eventually occured naturally over time. Science just sped up the process. Consider our group 2 resistant wild oat problem now. Those wild oats naturally evolved into a herbicide resistant variety due to our continuing over use of one group of herbicides.

  2. Man, and I thought I was a food nerd... I never even heard of kalettes!
    To me, the humble and under-appreciated cabbage is really the king of vegetables, in just a dozen or two centuries, it has been selected for its root, its stem, its individual leaves, its bulbous head, its sprouts, flowers, oily seeds, flat or curly, white, yellow, green, red or purple, etc. A lot of this selection happened via hybridization, as cabbage is an easy one to cross-pollinate, even naturally.

    "They contain toxic chemicals that are designed to kill weeds or pests, but there has been little research done on what these chemicals do to human health. That’s why GMOs are controversial."
    You might want to correct that, there are no toxic chemical to kill weeds in GMOs, they are just proteins that protect the plant against the (chelating?) effects of glyphosate or glufosinate.

    And there has been research on Bt. It is actually the insecticide of choice in organic vegetable farming, for leaks, cabbages (him again!) and several other crops who have fly, moth, butterfly, borer, worm or larvae pests against which organic farmers have little recourse. Bt seems safe for humans, I don't think there is even a minimal period between spraying and harvest.

    Modern GMOs can basically insert any gene precisely anywhere the biologists desire, so it seems much safer to me compared to many modern crop varieties that were created from mutagenesis (irradiation to radioactive elements to accelerate the natural mutation rate and develop new random traits that may or may not be useful.) Who knows what else this process destroys in the genome, and yet it is assimilated to safe conventional selection when it is nothing but.

    When regular cross-pollination is used to introduce a target gene sequence like a disease resistance trait into another variety, the resulting hybrid needs to be regressed over many years to keep only the original high yield variety with just the desired trait added. But in reality, there is no way to do so with sexual reproduction, the hybrid will always have hundreds of differences with the original, not just one. But for me, that's playing God too, if that's your argument. Some of this cross-pollination happened naturally, that's why the wheat genome is now 5 times bigger than the human one when it started from the wild much smaller, but 100% of what we grow has been extensively selected by humans for specific purposes, like high yield (10 times more for wheat in just the past few centuries).

    There are actually natural inter-species GMOs: DNA analyses recently showed that the fern inherited its tolerance for shade from a specific moss. It likely happened through the roots of both being in contact with each other in the same environment, not from cross-pollination.

  3. I am just trying to explain the differences in plant breeding versus genetic trait insertion the way we have done it so far. Most people don't know the difference and most people don't care. The few who do care are quite vocal but don't understand, either.

    I am not sure nature would ever have created glyphosate resistant canola or glyphosate resistant anything. It's all changed since the salt of glyphosate was created and got into our environment.


    1. But nature already has created glyphosate resistant weeds. And Group two resistant wild oats here. And antibiotic resistant bacteria. The way I understand it there is a small percentage of resistant individuals in every species. Given time and repeated use of the same herbicide these individual plants will survive and increase. Thats how it worked with the wild oats here.

    2. My point was about the incorrect weeds claim in ""They contain toxic chemicals that are designed to kill weeds or pests:" The Bt GMOs do contain proteins to kill some insect pests, but the R/R GMOs do not contain proteins to kill weeds. These proteins only make the crop tolerant to glyphosate. You should change it to "kill pests or tolerate herbicides."

      If you are against these "toxic chemicals" like Bt, what about the Bt that is applied on organic vegetables? If you are against glyphosate, what about its use in non-GM Europe, or to burn wheat before harvest? That's not a GMO. Or what about your own use of herbicides? Do the ones you use on non-GM corn and soybean have a lower DL/50 lethal dose rating?

      I don't mean to condone glyphosate either, there is probably more to say about it than just its lethal dose, like the type of compounds it degrades into, and it is really worrying how it gets into everything, from groundwater to breast milk, but it probably has to do more with the fact that it has become the de facto herbicide of choice in the U.S. I am guessing that under the same conditions, other herbicides would also end up in groundwater and breast milk. Glyphosate is supposed to degrade quick from soil bacteria, or at least that's the claim, so most other herbicides probably don't degrade so fast and will leech even more.

      History shows that the same thing happens to most if not all toxic synthesis chemicals. DDT was one prime example. Even if the "protect the babies" breast milk scare was probably what caused its ban, it was real nonetheless. The American condor disappeared entirely from Nature or almost entirely because of DDT. The European peregrine falcon was down to two dozen couples in France. I was actually assigned to watch a specific falcon nest in the Pyrénées mountains in the early months of the year for 3 consecutive years in my youth, to make sure no one would be poaching them for eggs or chicks. So I am quite sensitive on the subject.

  4. Thank the Lord for Chimel's response.
    Ed your bias is overflowing. That was not an attempt to educate. It was another attempt to indoctrinate. You encourage your readers to visit a page that refers to Gmo's as frankenfoods in order for them to learn more. Quit slandering the hard work of American agriculture.

    David Seck

  5. No no, David. I do not mean to indoctrinate but educate by thinking. To me, traits and natural selection is different. Frankenfood is a poor choice for any food unless it is rotten and will kill you.


  6. I agree with Mr Seck. You are pushing the limits to further your cause. Very biased and incorrect descriptions are what you want. That's why these groups used your quote against the American farmer in the past. Face it Ed, you are indoctrinating not educating.

  7. "They contain toxic chemicals that are designed to kill weeds or pests, but there has been little research done on what these chemicals do to human health. That’s why GMOs are controversial."...Nope, next time you might want to do a little research.

  8. I apologize for publishing my first draft and not the final one. We have been busy in the fields every day and I've probably been too tired to do this properly but that is no excuse.

    I still don't understand why people are so for or against something without more understanding.


    1. Sorry but you plagerized that. That has been floating around for a long time.

    2. Yes he did........http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/blogs/whats-the-difference-between-gmo-foods-and-hybrid-foods

  9. It's a quote, call it what you will. I have come to expect this kind of response from certain people and I don't understand why they are as pro gmo as the anti gmo crowd.


    1. Sorry Ed, even I thought it was your own writing. You should use different paragraph or font attributes consistently throughout your blog to clearly identify quotes.

      Maybe it's the wrong way to look at the issue: I don't consider myself pro GMO, because that would entail all past and future GMOs, but pro genetic engineering, because the science itself has been proven safe. Even GMO protesters such as the media figure Michael Pollan admitted that much early this year.

      Inserting a specific and safe gene sequence at a specific location of the DNA double helix is millions of time safer than cross-pollination, which basically introduces half the genome of one organism into another, that's how sexual reproduction works. Many crops or livestock we farm are incredibly fragilized throughout centuries or millennia of human selection and artificial support to their growth. It is better whenever possible to further select a specific trait on a crop grown in your region, but sometimes these crops are just too far away from the original stock to be able to evolve such traits naturally or through selection. Compare corn or soybean to how some weeds quickly developed their own natural resistance against glyphosate.

      Basically, what I am saying is that we should not object to the science of genetic engineering, but we should assess each specific GMO based on their actual effects. So far, the quasi majority of GMOs evaluated by scientists has been shown to be safe. It does not mean that we have studied every aspect of them, or that future GMOs will always be safe. If I agree on the climatology science about global warming, even conceding that some politicians used it to further their own agenda or that a few scientists may have "falsified" the data, I have to be consistent and act the same way with the science of genetic engineering, sticking to what is actually proven, not to other subjective considerations.

  10. I'm pro gmo because it works for me. It protects my yields like it is supposed to. It cuts my applied pesticides like it is supposed to. Let me ask, are you doing this to be contriversial? To draw attention to yourself and your business? Is this nothing but a game to you? To attack agriculture and it's technologies?

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