PNS Daily Newscast - April 19, 2019 

A look at some of the big takeaways from the release of the redacted Mueller report. Also, on our Friday rundown: Iowa recovers from devastating floods and prepares for more. And, scallopers urged to minimize the threat to seagrass.

Daily Newscasts

Is 'Genetically Modified' the Future of Our Food?

February 16, 2012

DES MOINES, Iowa - The rise of genetically modified (GMO) foods in the U.S. has put agriculture at a crossroads in Iowa and across the country. Some believe it is also putting food safety at risk. In Iowa, the use of GMO corn is now at 54 percent, and more than 80 percent of soybeans planted in Iowa are GM0 varieties.

Andrew Kimbrell, founder of the Center for Food Safety, says genetically modified crops can contaminate organic and conventional crops, hurt other organisms and affect human health. He also warns that GMO crops are becoming more resistant to pests and weeds, leading to greater use of pesticides and herbicides.

"They're ratcheting up the toxic spiral of the herbicides they're using. In the future, unless we stop these GMO crops, we're going to see more and more of these more toxic herbicides poured on our crops. That means it's in our air, it's in our water, it's in our food and it's in our bodies."

The Union of Concerned Scientists says that while genetically engineered crops have been hailed by some as critically important for ensuring adequate food supply, they have only produced small increases in yields in the United States. The group recommends that federal, state and local agencies redirect funding, research and incentives toward a more proven approach that shows more promise.

Last year, the USDA approved unrestricted use of genetically engineered alfalfa, the nation's fourth-largest crop. Kimbrell says the decision sends a message that no federal agency is looking out for food safety.

"What you are seeing with the FDA, the USDA and even the EPA is that these agencies are really working to benefit a handful of major chemical companies. They are not really acting on behalf of the American consumer, which is what they are supposed to be doing."

Polls indicate the public wants genetically engineered foods to be clearly labeled as such, Kimbrell says. Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen recently co-sponsored a bill, the "Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act," which would require such labeling.

Kimbrell cites GMO crops as one factor contributing to the larger problems of industrial agriculture. In his view, consumers and farmers need to work together and get back to basics in order to build a lasting food future.

"We need agriculture that's local, appropriate-scale, diverse, humane and socially just. That's the 'beyond organic' vision - and it's not pie in the sky. We're going to have to do this, because the other system is simply unsustainable."

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA