Welcome to post #6 in my “Is my food safe?” series! If you missed any of the others, you can find links and the webinar recording on this page.
I know you all have heard about genetically modified foods or GMOs. They might seem scary, but I’m here to tell you why you don’t need to worry about them!
Lets start by understanding the genetic engineering process…
What does Genetically Modified Mean?
Genetically modified organism (GMO) is a plant that had a tweak in its genetic code to change certain characteristics. To create a GMO, a scientist inserts a gene into a cell. When you think about it, organisms have so much DNA- and with only one gene changed, most of the genetic code actually remains unchanged!
Why do we have Genetically Modified Food?
Genetically modified foods might seem a little futuristic, but the reality is that similar concepts have been around for hundreds of years. Selective breeding is a practice that farms have been using since the beginning of farming. The idea is that you use the seed from your best crops to grow next years crop. So if you were a tomato farmer you would pick your biggest and juiciest tomato and save it’s seeds in hopes that the seeds would produce more big and juicy tomatoes the next year.
Today scientists use the same concepts to identify traits in crops that are more favorable and alter the genes of the crop. Essentially it is streamlining the selective breeding process. Even with this new technology, there are only 10 approved GMO crops in the food supply.
- Summer Squash
- Sugar Beet
Genetically modified foods are used to enhance flavors, make crops more resistant to pests, drastic weather, or diseases. One example of its potential future use is in oranges. In Florida citrus greening is a disease that threatens the orange industry. Scientists are working to use genetic modifications to make oranges resistant to citrus greening in order to prevent the spread of it. Another example is modifying an organism to be repel insects- which would allow farmers to reduce the use of pesticides.
Are Genetically Modified Foods Bad for You?
- Currently there is no research to indicate that genetically modified foods cause any health risk to us when we eat them.
- Some might even argue that genetically modified foods help support a resilient food system that is more resistant to climate change.
- There is currently no scientific evidence that GMO crops are bad for your health or cause harm to humans in any way. In fact, more than 275 independent science organizations from around the world have concluded that foods grown from genetically engineered seeds pose no unique health concerns.
- The US National Academy of Sciences has also concluded that GMO crops have not caused increases in cancer obesity, gastrointestinal illnesses, kidney disease, autism, or allergies.
- Therefore, there is currently no scientific evidence that would suggest you should avoid GMO foods.
Having access to safe and affordable food is important, and genetically modified foods can help make this a reality.
The Bottom Line
The most important thing for us to realize is that our bodies need food with vitamins and minerals to support life. Whether they are modified genetically by technology or not doesn’t matter.
The health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables outweighs any unknown potential risks from GMOs. However, if it still makes you uncomfortable, you can avoid GMO’s by buying organic (organic farmers are prohibited from using GMO crops).
-Julie & The Interns
P.S. I said this last time, but its important to remember- our food is the safest it has ever been! I want to emphasize that I trust the process of foods being sold in the US with the all the quality control measures set forth by the USDA and the DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services), which includes the FDA and the CDC.
For More Reading Check Out These Articles!
- Click here for the Cancer Dietitian Podcast episode on GMOs
- GMO Foods: Why You Should NOT Freak Out!
- Don’t Freak Out About GMO Foods Part 2
- The Story on GMOs, from Purdue University https://ag.purdue.edu/GMOs/Pages/WhatareGMOs.aspx