Vegan, gluten-free, paleo — there are a million ways people eat these days. What we all share is that everyone wants their food to be nutritious, delicious and above all safe.

Nearly 70 percent of Americans are worried about pesticides in their food and prefer food grown with fewer pesticides.1http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/29/public-and-scientists-views-on-science-and-society/ So it’s no surprise that a lot of people still have questions about GMO Farming and pesticide use. The fact is, GMO Farming methods let growers spray less often, and actually use fewer pesticides than other types of farming. But when even one story gets the facts wrong about GMO Farming, people get concerned — and understandably so.

That’s why we’re sorting facts from fear, so you can make smart, informed choices for yourself and your family. Take a look:

When Crops Protect Themselves, We Don’t Have To

It’s the secret almost no one but farmers know — all types of farming use pesticides to one degree or another, even organic. So what sets GMO Farming methods apart? Farmers using these techniques can grow crops that are pest-resistant on their own.2http://www.bt.ucsd.edu/bt_crop.html

All plants can develop their own defenses against the insects that like to eat them. Using these natural pesticides as a spray is one of the ways organic farmers fend off pests. GMO Farming simply lets farmers grow plants with more of that natural resistance. Because it’s something that already occurs in nature, it’s completely safe for people and the insects we want around — like lady bugs and pollinators.3https://www.nap.edu/catalog/23395/genetically-engineered-crops-experiences-and-prospects 4http://www.bt.ucsd.edu/bt_crop.html 5http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/BTgen.pdf

And with crops that have their own natural defenses, farmers can cut back dramatically on pesticide use. How much? By 2010, only 9 percent of corn farmers still used insecticides at all — in large part because of increased GMO Farming.6https://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/pub-details/?pubid=45182

Sources: 7https://www.nap.edu/catalog/23395/genetically-engineered-crops-experiences-and-prospects 8http://www.bt.ucsd.edu/bt_crop.html 9http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/BTgen.pdf

Safety First: Protecting Crops AND Protecting Your Family

But bugs aren’t the only pests that affect crops — what about weeds? One reason farmers have embraced GMO Farming methods is that they allow for milder and more effective herbicides, making it possible to spray less often 10http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/52/download/isaaa-brief-52-2016.pdf but with more targeted precision. Because these improved herbicides break down in the soil more quickly, they have far less impact on the environment.11http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.4161/gmcr.20061

But let’s be honest. Most people aren’t just worried about the natural world; they’re wondering if there’s pesticide residue on their produce. The truth is, over 99 percent of any pesticide residue on a plant is made organically by the plant itself. It’s a natural defense. And the fraction of a percent left? The research shows it’s safe.12https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1253709/

Of course, if we use any weed-control method too much, for too long, weeds can adapt. So many farmers go out of their way to make sure weeds don’t get the chance. Smart stewardship practices, like crop rotation, ensure GMO Farming will remain sustainable for years to come.

13http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111629

Sometimes Doing Less is Doing More

When it comes to pesticides, all types of farming use them. GMO Farming just lets farmers use fewer, safer pesticides to protect their crops, and apply them less.

No matter what you eat, or what you’ve heard about GMOs, the real story is simple: GMO Farming is a smarter way to farm the food we all need. For more detail on what GMO Farming means for our food and environment, check out the resources linked below.

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