It seems everywhere I turn, I am reading about how GMO’s are going to be the death of civilization. Or at least close to it. GMO is an acronym for genetically modified organism. And I was about to embark on the search of the top 5 myths about GMO foods.
The term GMO is most commonly used to refer to crop plants created for human or animal consumption using the latest molecular biology techniques. These plants have been modified in the laboratory to enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides or improved nutritional content.
Not being a person to take statements such as, “GMO’s are poisoning our food” at face value, I wanted to find out for myself if GMOs were safe for my family. Being a wife, mom and grandmother, safe food is important to me.
So my search began. On each of the following statements, I researched credible sources to find out if they were true. The answers I found may surprise you.
1. I have heard GMO’s can make my family sick and because they are unnatural or “Frankenfoods” they cannot be safe. Myth
There is absolutely no evidence that GMOs have caused illness or death. All GMO seeds go through an extensive approval process. The Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of AG, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, have to approve all GMOs prior to use. Biotechnology has been in use for the past 20 years with no health problems reported. Actually, natural genetic mutations occur in nature all the time. Always have, always will. The scary thing about nature’s version of GMO’s is there is NO control over the outcome. With GMO’s that are the result of biotechnology, there is control over the outcome.
2. GMOs are relatively new, so why do we need them now? Organic and conventional crops were good enough before GMOs, so they should be good enough now. Myth
One reason farmers use GMO’s is to decrease the amount of pesticides they use. GMOs, or crop biotechnology, is just another tool farmers use to improve efficiency. Farmers harvest better and more crops with biotechnology. Farmers use less pesticides and less fuel using GMOs. During this past year’s drought, crop yields would have been significantly less if farmers had not used GMO technology.
3. GMO foods are nutritionally and chemically different than non-GMO food. Myth
GMO foods are foods. They are not nutritionally or chemically different than non-GMO foods.
One of the initial non-GMO leaders, environmentalist Mark Lynas, has come forward and retracted his statements about how harmful GMOs are. He admittedly agreed he was wrong about what he said about GMOs and is now very regretful that he said them. Please read his statement: “I was wrong about GMOs”
4. Many other countries have banned GMOs so that’s proof they are not safe for us. Myth
Actually Europe has not banned GMO corn or soybeans for their livestock. In fact, they import a large amount of GMO crops to feed their livestock. Very few countries have a complete ban on GMO crops. The issue is that some of these countries, specifically Europe, have not approved GMO crops. And it appears the British are having second thoughts on their stance against biotech. Read the article, “Some sanity on genetically engineered foods”. Much different than an outright ban as many would have you believe.
5. Monsanto is the devil child. They want to dominate the world’s food supply. Myth
Monsanto is not the only company that develops biotech crops. There are many other companies that use the same technology. Farmers are thankful for companies like Monsanto who research technology to further improve the tools and seed farmers use to optimize their crop yields. Monsanto is also one of the largest companies that supplies organic seed, which is something not many people know. It’s easy to demonize a company like Monsanto, but it’s imperative that we look at the facts and realize the true benefits the company has given the agricultural community.
What I have learned the most is that GMOs, or biotech crops, are important for us now to grow better crops. They are also important for the future of our families, our country, and our world. Many people don’t realize that third world countries stand to benefit the most from biotech crops. They will be able to grow food for themselves in areas of the world that have less than ideal growing conditions. And that is important in our quest to feed the world.
GMO’s allow farmers to use less pesticides and grow more crops using less land. And that is a big deal.
Even though there is a “movement” to have farmers return to the “old ways” of farming, realistically we cannot do that. The world would experience horrible famines if we grew crops the same way our grandfathers did.
And as painful as it can be to some people, we cannot view the world in the way we fantasize and ignore the facts.
If consumers choose not to be a part of the biotech food, they have options. They can buy organic as all organic is non-GMO.
With the world’s population increasing, farmers have to double their yields using the same land in the next 40 years. This can only be accomplished by using biotech crops. And probably the most exciting issue with biotech crops is that we have just scratched the surface. We will be seeing medical advances using biotechnology in crops in the future, that is, if we are not prevented from using biotech. How great would it be to have illnesses such as HIV and cancer be cured using plant biotechnology!
My list of the top myths is a very short synopsis of each point. Please refer to the references below for more detailed information.
The bottom line is we need to base our decisions on science and research. As a mom, we can’t let fear mongering drive changes in our lives and our world. We need to be critical thinkers. Read and read and read with an open mind. Learn from credible sources. It is at that point that we can move forward in making the best decisions for ourselves and our world.
Right to Know Minnesota – The Truth (list of numerous refuting GMO misinformation)
Commonground – Weighing in on the Safety of GMO Foods
Do Consumers Want GMO Labeling?