Genetically Modified…what?

As fall has approached us, most of the Farmer’s Markets are coming to an end. But before the first frost had hit, I had a group project to go to the Farmer’s Market and promote agriculture. What better way to do that than go and talk to some farmers about agriculture? What I found was quite interesting. With only three questions, my group and I asked:

1. Do you try and avoid GMO’s?

2. Do you know what GMO stands for?

3. Do you try to buy produce from the other vendors to help support their business?

Macomb's Farmer's Market
Macomb’s Farmer’s Market

Not only did I find some of the answers humorous, I also found them to be quite confusing also. Asking our first question, Do you try and avoid GMO’s?, we received seven yes’s and six no’s. This question really got some of the vendors talking. Some didn’t care what was in their food and some were very opinionated. One vendor blames GMO food’s to be the cause of her breast cancer. One customer didn’t even know what GMO’s were, and she didn’t care, she just ate “regular foods.” All of the people who answered yes to avoiding GMO’s blame all of their health problems on consuming GMO’s.

So that led us into our next question, Do you know what GMO stands for? Every single person, (minus the 90 year old lady who didn’t care) spoke up very quickly with their answer. Then we asked, okay what does it stand for then? Four people quickly said Genetically Modified Organism. Four others said they had no idea and then the remaining five stumbled on their answer either only getting the Genetic part right or forgetting the Organism. But these people that didn’t know what GMO stood for still were against consuming them. They just “knew” that it was bad for them and it could cause cancer and other health risks.

Farmer's Market Vendor
Farmer’s Market Vendor

To finish up our survey, we asked them if they help support the other local farmers by purchasing their produce. Everyone answered yes. Do the non-GMO supporters know if the produce they are buying is GMO free? There weren’t any signs up saying if anyone’s produce was GMO free or not. Do they pay attention to the seed packaging when planting their produce? Do they really know if they are avoiding GMO’s or not? Some of the vendors just sold baked goods. Do the non-GMO supporters know if the sugar in the baked goods is GMO free?

As we finished up our survey, I pondered on some of the answers we received and it really frustrated me as to how uneducated the public is on agriculture. I understand that these were just small backyard farmers, but the non-GMO supporters are part of the reason for why agriculturalists have such a bad name. Going to the farmers market is a great way to help talk to people about how farmers run their operation and what GMO’s really do to the food we eat and what they don’t do to our bodies. As agriculturalists we need to start educating the public about agriculture and how it all really works. It’s time to start AGvocating!


My name is Kaci McAfee and I am a senior at Western Illinois University majoring in Agricultural Business and minoring in Animal Science. At Western I am involved in many on campus clubs and organizations including Hoof n’ Horn, Collegiate Farm Bureau and Sigma Alpha sorority. I have grown up in an agricultural environment being involved in 4H and FFA. My family and I run a grain operation growing corn and beans and also raise and show purebred Hereford cattle at a local, state and national level.


2 thoughts on “Genetically Modified…what?

  1. That also surprises me but knowing the farmers markets we have around here it really shouldn’t. But these are farmers! They should at least know what they are growing! I try to avoid GMOs, I don’t blame them for any of my health problems and I certainly have known for years what GMO stands for. You’d think that farmers would at least know about the issues related to their own profession.


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