You've seen them mentioned all over your Facebook page, read about them in the news, maybe you've even signed a petition demanding they be labeled. You’re concerned about whether GMOs are safe to eat, but you might be having a hard time explaining exactly why.
Here's what you need to know about GMOs.
GMOs aren't the same as good old fashioned breeding
GMOs are Genetically Modified Organisms. When it comes to your food that usually means they're plants that scientists figured out how to manipulate at the genetic level to do things like resist damage from pesticides. Unlike selective breeding - a practice farmers have been using for years that matches up plants or animals with desirable traits to reproduce naturally, GMOs are made in the lab. And they don't just breed one kind of corn with another kind of corn. They breed one kind of corn with, for example, a pesticide. When the corn grows, it produces a pesticide right inside the corn!
You can see why some people perceive that to be a problem – those of us who'd prefer not to eat veggies that also happen to be manufacturing their own pesticides.
GMOs aren't proven safe
The jury is still out on whether or not eating foods made with GMO ingredients is harmful to our health. That’s mainly because no long term trials have been conducted to evaluate the health impacts of eating GMO foods. But, some studies are showing that the chemicals used in GMO foods are showing up in our digestive tracts and pregnant women's umbilical cord blood. And there are also concerns that GMO foods may be introducing new allergens into our food supply.
What we do know for sure about GMOs is that they’re leading to an increase in the use of toxic persistent pesticides. As weeds and insects adapt and evolve and learn to evolutionarily outsmart the pesticides used with or in GMO crops, farmers are using more toxic pesticides to combat these pests. That means more pesticides in our air, water, soil and food.
All we need is a label
You likely already know organic foods are produced without the use of GMOs. But did you also know that the majority of non-organic foods that contain either corn or soy products contain GMOs? That's a lot of food.
Eating organic is your best bet for avoiding GMOs. But there's also a reasonable solution for those of us who'd prefer not to eat GMOs when organic isn't an option - that's labeling them. And this isn't exactly a revolutionary idea. In fact, over 60 countries, including Australia, Japan and all the countries of the European Union require GMO foods to be labeled. A label isn't a ban, just a way to give all of us a choice.
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