GMOs should not be held to impossible standards or justified with lofty world-saving promises—their proven, real-world value is enough to judge them by. Millions of farmers have planted millions of acres of genetically modified crops over the past fifteen years. Varieties of corn, soybean and cotton engineered to resist common herbicides or the insects that plague them have resulted in more lush crops that are easier to grow and tend. These have been so popular with American farmers that 90% of all corn and 93% of all soybeans grown in the United States last year were genetically engineered. Since the first commercially grown GMO seeds were pushed into the dirt in 1997, an estimated 3 trillion meals containing biotech ingredients have been eaten.
Varieties of staple crops meant to withstand the myriad of stresses in the field are making a huge positive impact on farmer’s livelihoods across the world. In India, strains of cotton engineered to resist cotton borers single-handedly increased farmers’ bottom lines by $3.2 billion in 2011. Chinese farmers saw an increase of $2.2 billion that year, and together with Indian farmers, they planted a total area of GM cotton that could completely cover the state of Illinois.