NO!! WE DO NOT GROW GENETICALLY ENGINEERED (ALSO KNOWN AS GENETICALLY MODIFIED) CROPS. PERIOD. I am not against the advantages that genetic engineering has for us, but, since many of our subscribers are against them, we don't grow them.
Some of you do not agree with my opinion of the importance of genetic engineering, which is why we do not grow any GE (GMO) varieties. But I will continue to present news about it, because I'd like to show you that it is not the process that is a problem: it's how we use it. More genetically engineered produce varieties will be coming on the market in the next few years so we will all have to make decisions on what we choose to buy or not to buy. Although the herbicide resistance engineered into a few agronomic crops (corn, canola, soybeans) has received the most publicity, genetic engineering can add other desirable characteristics to our crops, often bypassing much of the long and expensive process required in conventional plant breeding.
That's why some of us appreciate the promise of genetic engineering. Now that scientists know the genetic code of most of our crop species, it can be possible to pick out a gene-or genes-that give the resistance, and introduce those genes into the crop which already has the characteristics we like. Obviously, this is a great oversimplification, but genetic engineering does have potential to be a faster and less expensive way to get crop resistance to these constantly changing pest problems which can devastate crops.
When GE becomes more complicated-and provokes controversy-is when the genes introduced are from unrelated species. Actually, it appears to me that the biggest threat caused by those is to agricultural production itself, not to the health of the humans who eat the crops. But, that is a whole different, and complicated, discussion.
If you don't want to eat genetically engineered food, it's easy to avoid that when eating vegetables. Right now the ONLY commercially available genetically varieties of vegetable crops are a couple zucchini squashes and some sweet corns. A potato variety will also be on the market soon. So, generally, it is not necessary to even bother asking your veggie sellers if they are selling genetically engineered vegetables. Here's what is genetically engineered: most of the corn that is used for corn syrup, corn oil, and animal feed; canola; soybeans; and cotton. The only ways to avoid eating those GE varieties are: A.) Don't eat anything that contains those things. or B.) Buy them only as organic.
J.R. Simplot (which is, by the way, a privately held family corporation) has applied for deregulation of their new potato variety that has been genetically engineered for late blight resistance, low acrylamide potential, reduced black spot bruising, and lowered reducing sugars. All of those improved characteristics will benefit consumers and producers, so it's difficult for me to see why anyone would be against it.
Some people think that only GMO seed is restricted as far as sales, but there are many varieties of regular hybrid vegetable seeds that I cannot buy, because they are licensed to only 1 big grower. Most of the vegetables you see in the grocery store with colorful brand names and the name of a specific grower are handled like that. Luckily, we have some companies (such as Johnny's) who have made a decision to support gardeners and smaller growers by developing similar varieties which are available for anyone who wants to buy the seeds.
A recent National Geographic article tells how some see that genetic engineering can help agriculture feed the world population with fewer detrimental environmental effects.