Is there animal DNA in genetically modified vegetables?

Each week, we will answer a question from our readers regarding our operations and community outreach in the State of Hawaii. Submit your question by visiting the contact page. Thanks for reading. Mahalo!

Q: I read an article online that said there is animal DNA in your vegetables. As a vegetarian, this is a huge concern for me. Is this true?

No, this is not true.  There is certainly quite a bit of misinformation about biotech crops on the Internet designed to mislead and scare consumers. This is one of them. All of our products are vegetarian-friendly as there are no commercial biotech products owned or produced by Monsanto that have animal DNA in them.

The most common traits in Monsanto’s biotech crops are herbicide tolerance (HT) and insect resistance (IR). HT plants contain a gene from a common bacteria that produces a protein that enables the plant to be unaffected by the herbicide. IR crops contain genes from common soil bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that produce proteins that attack certain target insects –and are not harmful to humans or other non-target species. Bt is actually used in organic farming too, but it’s sprayed on the plants and is less effective due to exposure to rain and sunlight, which limits its time on the plant surface.

It is also important to note that almost all vegetables are not, in fact, improved using biotechnology. Improvements in vegetables are primarily accomplished through conventional breeding practices.

Here at Monsanto Hawaii, we are proud of the work we do and are committed to dialogue and transparency. However, we believe that an open dialogue should be based on well-established scientific facts and understanding and not fear-mongering such as this. Again, there is no animal DNA in any of our products so if you’re a vegetarian and don’t want to pay a premium for organic food, don’t worry, biotech foods are vegetarian friendly.