The Science of Food


Genetically modified organisms may be found in as much as 80 percent of processed foods, including corn, canola, cotton and soybeans.

According to an article published by the University of Illinois, over the last decade transgenic crops bred using modern biotechnology have been planted on more than 1 billion acres across the globe.

Conventional Farmer Mark McHargue uses both GMO and non-GMO technology.

"GMO's allow us to use less energy and go less times over the field and produce a good crop," he said.

Some say genetically modified crops may have higher yields due to both breeding and bio technology. "Crops can tolerate the drought a lot easier," McHargue said.

Farmers may pay more for seeds that will produce higher yields and reduce labor, but while some say the genetically modified crop reduces the environmental impact on land, not all agree.

Jim Knopik of Knopik Farms is a non-GMO farmer who says the demand for non-GMO foods continue to increase.

"I'm needed now. I'm doing something that's good for everybody," he said.

In the science of food, non-GMO farmers rely on a different style of technology. They must work their land using rotations.

"No we can't raise corn year after year just like you can't raise alfalfa year after year, but it works good with rotation," Knopik said.

According to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, biotechnology plantings as a percentage of total crop plantings in the United States in 2004 were about 46 percent for corn, 76 percent for cotton and 85 percent for soybeans.