Are GMOs safe for our genes, and are they more or less nutritious than non-GMOs?

Brad Day from the MSU Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences answers your questions about genetically modified organisms, hybrid produce and home gardening.

To date, there have been no research studies which demonstrate that GMOs are unsafe for human consumption. In fact, in the United States, many of the foods we already eat are GMO: soybean and corn are two examples.

Is it cost effective and time effective to grow your own food?

That depends on you! Gardening has many positive benefits beyond providing food, such as exercise and relaxation. In the United States, we enjoy a benefit that many regions of the world do not: relatively inexpensive food.

In most parts of the world, families grow food to offset the cost of feeding their families because food is expensive. From a financial perspective, if you have a small backyard garden, it is cost-effective to grow your own food.

Who comes up with things like pluots and orange melons? How do they make them work?

These foods are broadly referred to as hybrids, and many naturally exist. Within species — in the case of pluots, Prunus — it is possible to cross pollinate and make hybrids. In almost all cases of hybrids, these foods are horticulturally appealing to consumers as they have many of the traits of each of the individual fruits, such as sweetness, texture, and size/shape.

How can I fertilize my plants so that it’s also OK for the environment and our water?

Great question! We are often drawn to chemical fertilizers, which in low doses, is not harmful to the environment, per se, but nonetheless, results in a change in the soil chemistry.

Natural fertilizers are available for purchase. Composting is an excellent way to naturally provide nutrients to your garden.

Brad Day, Ph.D. is an associate professor and associate department chair for research in the MSU Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences.

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