That number is the amount of corn the United States is on track to produce this year in tons. So that means for every man, woman and child in the United States, they can have 2600 pounds of corn to themselves this year. It’s used for an incredible amount of things in this country: food for people, livestock, fuel for cars, hundreds of plant-based products, etc.
The only thing more incredible than the sheer number is the percentage of that seed which is genetically modified. While the Europe Union has effectively banned GMO seed and crops, the United States has wholly embraced it. 88 percent of our crops are now genetically modified, with corn taking the lead as our principle crop. This is up from less than 10 percent only 20 years ago. Is it a coincidence that we’ve seen an increase in food production by 120 percent in that same time frame?
Now yes, there are a lot of controversies around GMO crops and seed these days. Everything from regulation to pricing concerns and health issues has kept people hesitant to embrace these engineered foods. But with the global population skyrocketing, the increased yields of these seeds might be hard to ignore.
Is it fair to debate our concerns about GMOs while people in the developing world need food desperately? Is this a health discussion worth having regardless of the immediate crisis? Weigh in on the debate in the comments.
Gabe Salkin and Mel McIntire are seniors at The George Washington University majoring in journalism.