What is the deal with GMOs?
Are GMOs safe? How often do you see the words “Non-GMO” plastered over the packaging of a product at the grocery store? From cartons of blueberries to cans of beans, it seems like this label is virtually inescapable.
How to make sense of the labels:
To an unsuspecting customer, the presence of a “Non-GMO” label can make GMOs seem pretty scary. In fact, a study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 49% of Americans believed that GMO foods were worse for health than traditionally bred foods. Despite this belief, 93% of corn produced in the U.S., one of the most frequently used ingredients, is genetically modified. So what’s the deal with GMOs?
What is a GMO?
First off, GMO stands for “genetically modified organism.” Basically, a GMO is a plant or other organism that’s had its DNA modified for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons include: making crops able to withstand harsh conditions, yielding more produce from less land, and prolonging the shelf life of specific fruits and veggies.
What does the research say?
There have been over 20 years of research performed on GMOs and almost all scientists and physicians agree that GMOs are safe for human consumption. Moreover, some professionals even argue that genetic modification could be safer than traditional farming methods, because without GM seeds, farmers would be forced to use more toxic pesticides to produce an adequate amount of crops.
How safe are GMOs?
Given that GMOs are safe, why is the “non-GMO” label on the packages of so many different food products? In short, it’s often used as a marketing tactic. With an uneducated public, many companies capitalize on consumer-fear and desire for healthy foods. Think about it like this: there are table salts that claim to be “non-GMO.” Salt doesn’t have genes. Yep, you heard me right — salt literally can’t be a GMO because it has no genes to modify. Surprisingly, there’s still that pesky little label at the bottom of the package. The USDA has proposed requiring companies to include the term “bioengineered” on the labels of genetically modified food products. To emphasize, there are no real health risk of consuming GMOs, but this label would give customers more transparency about the origin of their food.
GMOs are too new for us to determine if they are safe.
Well…not exactly. We’ve been researching them for 20 years and there are over 1,700 published studies that have found that they are safe for human consumption.
GMOs cause gluten-intolerance.
There have been no found cases of GMO consumption causing illness.
Genetic modification makes food less nutritious.
Nope. GM crops and non-GM crops have the same nutritional value. Genetic modification removes some naturally-occurring toxins.
If you have any additional questions about GMOs or nutrition concerns, visit our website or call us at 301-474-2499 to talk to one of our expert dietitians!
Rebecca Bitzer loves to empower Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) and their clients. Co-author of Welcome to the Rebelution: Seven steps to the nutrition counseling practice of your dreams and Taste the Sweet Rebellion: Rebel against dieting.