Genetically-Modified Food More Prevalent than Ever

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CENTRALIA - Despite the march against Monsanto movement that calls for limits on genetically-modified food grown in the U.S., several staple crops are at all-time highs of genetic modification in the United States.

A 2012 U. S. Department of Agriculture study found genetically-modified organism (GMO) soybeans represent 93 percent of all planted acres, GMO corn represents 88 percent and GMO cotton represents 94 percent.

Supporters of the practice say genetic modifications make crops resistant to natural pests and herbicides.

These GMO crops are making their way to the supermarket. Clovers is a natural food store in Columbia. Manager Sean Foley said there are drawbacks to GMO food.

"One of the main dangers, I think, would be the unknown consequences of manipulation of such a fundamental level in our food system," Foley said.

Foley also said there have been studies showing GMO food to be carcinogenic. A French study conducted by biologist Gilles-Eric Seralini found that GMO food caused tumors in rats. However, the study has never been duplicated, and other studies have found GMO foods to be safe.

Clovers employees said even they sell some GMO products. They said if a product is not labeled specifically as non-GMO or USDA organic, there is about an 80 percent chance that product contains genetically-modified food.

Centralia farmer Brian Martin uses GMO seeds and said they are perfectly safe. Martin said non-GMO seeds use technology from 15 years ago, and a switch to conventional seeds could result in a 30 percent reduction in yield.

"Go back to the economics," Martin said. "It's no longer practical to use a horse-drawn farming equipment in that fashion."

Martin said if U.S. farmers used non-GMO seeds, the public would starve. A 2012 USDA study found the average U.S. farmer feeds 155 people annually.

Martin also said GMO seeds increase the supply of crops, so they reach the consumer at a lower price.