Do GMOs Feed the World? Not Exactly


The biotech industry wants you to believe that their products — namely, their genetically engineered seeds and the portfolio of industrial agrochemicals needed to grow them — are essential to feeding the world.

It’s a great talking point, often repeated, but is it true?

When you look at the data of how GMOs are used, it turns out that GMOs are actually used to fuel cars, create processed foods, and feed animals in the United States.

The world? Well, that part isn’t exactly true.

GMOs are now present in 80 percent of conventional processed food in the U.S., often in the form of genetically modified corn, which is used to make high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), glucose and dextrose, starch, corn oil, beverage alcohol, industrial alcohol, and fuel ethanol.

Amazingly, the USDA boldly states: “Government programs have been instrumental in the development of the HFCS markets.” In other words, our taxpayer dollars are hard at work making processed foods. Corn crops receive enormous subsidies and financial aid. Veggies? Less than 1 percent.

What about those animals? Seventy percent (70%) of U.S. soybeans and 48 percent of U.S. corn go into livestock, poultry, and fish feed through commercial and on-site feed productions. Bonus fact: Those same animals now account for 80 percent of antibiotic use in the U.S.

Basically, any animal products not certified USDA organic or Non-GMO verified are very likely to be the product of GMO-fed animals.

And, what about the alternative fuel in our cars? Well, 28 percent of U.S. soy goes into fuel production and about 40 percent of U.S. corn production goes to make ethanol. According to Forbes, “With more than 60 nations having biofuel mandates, the competition between ethanol and food has become a moral issue. Groups around the world oppose biofuels because they push up food prices and disproportionately affect the poor.”

In 2000, according to Forbes, which cites a report from Iowa State University, “over 90 percent of the U.S. corn crop went to feed people and livestock, many in undeveloped countries, with less than 5 percent used to produce ethanol. In 2013, however, 40 percent went to produce ethanol, 45 percent was used to feed livestock, and only 15 percent was used for food and beverage.”

When you actually understand the financial incentives behind the biotech industry, you can see that their promise to “feed the world” is really just PR spin to feed their bottom line.

GMOs and the portfolio of chemicals required to grow them don’t actually feed the world — but they do feed shareholder return. Or at least they did until the world started catching on to this PR spin.

To bring complete clarity to the PR play here, Forbes recently stated:

“The grain required to fill a 25-gallon gas tank with ethanol can feed one person for a year, so the amount of corn used to make that 13 billion gallons of ethanol will not feed the almost 500 million people it was feeding in 2000.”

Bottom line? We don’t need GMOs to feed the world. We simply have to stand for smarter policy.