Genetically Modified Organisms…what a complicated topic. A question about the safety of GMOs was asked at our recent Doctor Is In, Ask a Dietitian panel. This is also a question that my family and I often get asked; I’m married to a 6th generation conventional farmer and I’m a registered dietitian, so it’s inevitable that some questions about GMO, antibiotics and/or hormones are going to get asked. Of all these, I personally feel the GMO topic is the toughest question to answer. Why? Because there is so much information/marketing out there to try and decipher. What is factual and what is not can be difficult to figure out. So here is some factual information I feel good in providing to you regarding GMOs.
1. What is a GMO? A genetically modified organism (GMO) is created by taking a beneficial trait, like insect resistance, from one living thing and introducing it into another to help it thrive in its environment.
2. There are currently 8 commercially GMO crops available: corn, soybean, cotton, alfalfa, sugar beets, canola, papaya and squash.
3. For thousands of years, humans have been genetically enhancing organisms through the practice of selective breeding (what we learned about in Science class in school). Believe it or not, seedless watermelon, honeycrisp apples, grape tomatoes, broccolini, wheat and sweet corn came about due to selective breeding, which took many years, but not the use of modern technology.
4. Today the technology we have can better help us with the process of selective breeding and better gene enhancement. Today’s crops can use water more efficiently, allow farmers to use less pesticide/herbicide/insecticide applications and have larger harvests. This ultimately allows farmers to grow crops that are sustainable and to improve soil health, water retention, and reduce runoff.
5. Genetically modified crops have to be safety tested by a certified independent third party using protocols required by the government and regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Untimely the choice is yours whether or not to consume foods that have been genetically modified. As a farmer’s wife, I feel good stating that GMO foods are safe to eat, and as a Registered Dietitian, I don’t have a preference whether the food is GMO, non-GMO, organic or conventionally grown — as long as you are getting your fruits, vegetables, whole foods and less processed foods in, the healthier you will be!
This video, I feel, explains WELL what a GMO is:
GMO Answers is good website that can answer more questions you may have.