Yes, it’s okay to feed your family GMO’s and I am going to tell you why. There is so much buzz about GMO’s recently, especially with General Mills announcement of labeling their original Cheerios with a “not made with genetically modified ingredients” label.
Let us start this conversation by discussing what is a GMO.
GMO stands for “genetically modified organism” but I believe a better description is genetically engineered. Genetically engineering allows intentionally selected individual genes with a desired trait (which contain DNA) to be transplanted from one organism to another. Farmers and gardeners have been creating plant hybrids for as long as they have grown plants. Genetically engineering simply serves as a more efficient and precise method to this process. Scientists do not force the transplants as some may think–either the DNA crosses or it doesn’t, just like in nature.
One comment I hear over and over is GE plants are poison and causing us to be sick. But when you look at the research, over 2 trillion meals have been served with absolutely no evidence of ANY ill effect from ANY GE food. I can go on and on and on with hundreds of statistics and research that prove GE foods are safe. But when you are a mom and it’s your responsibility to feed your family health and safe food, you can’t help but take notice of these accusations against GE foods. Emotion takes over and statistics go by the wayside. Here are some thoughts I believe moms feel:
1) Lack of Trust. Many people don’t trust big ag companies like Monsanto. Our emotions take over when we think of corporations whom we don’t think care about us.
2) Nostalgia. Why can’t we just go back to how we used to grow plants? Plus, we just don’t understand science and what genetically engineering means for our food our more importantly, our families.
3) Confusion. Moms are confused about what is or is not healthy foods. Unfortunately, food fear marketing plays a big part in this confusion.
4) Victims of propaganda food wars. There are many other countries that are banning GE foods, so they must know something we don’t, right?
Let’s delve a little deeper into these common claims about GE foods:
What about “big ag” Monsanto? I can’t defend some of the things Monsanto has done in the past, but I can defend some of the outright rumors. One common rumor is they sue farmers for trace amounts of their patented seeds. Nope, nada. They have never sued a farmer for trace amounts of their patented seeds. There are other myths, so I recommend checking out Myths about Monsanto to learn more.
Plants should not have genes transplanted which allows them to produce their own pesticides. Fact is plants naturally produce their own pesticides. Why is that? For survival. We eat a significant amount of plant produced pesticides and don’t even realize it.
Genetically engineering is just unnatural. Genetically modifications do happen in nature and also through conventional methods of plant breeding. The strawberry never existed in nature as it is now and was the direct result of human crossing.
Why are other countries banning GMO’s? In a nutshell, many of those decisions are political. The decision to go GMO-free has really nothing to do with the safety of GE’s, but rather other outside pressures.
How easy is it to bring a genetically engineered seed to market? Not easy at all. It takes anywhere from 13-15 years and about $136,000,000 to bring a GE to market. It needs to be approved by the FDA, EPA and USDA, all who test the seeds rigorously for any potential health issues.
So why do we need genetically engineered foods? They are better for the environment. We use less pesticides on our farm and that’s good for the environment because there is less runoff (70% less), less water is needed, less soil erosion (90% less), less plant disease and less pesticide exposure to my husband. But it’s just not benefiting farmers, consumers can benefit as well. Genetically engineering can mean higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids (save the salmon), higher vitamin content, better food shelf life, less allergens (think of peanuts with no allergens) and many more. But in order for these improvements to happen, we can’t be afraid to use technology.
How many foods are genetically engineered? There are only 8 foods that have been approved for genetically engineered – corn (both field and sweet), soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, papaya and squash. That’s it.
So what are moms suppose to do? It may seem like “GMO free” label indicates the food is better than those without the label, but that can’t be further from the truth. Nutritionally, they are identical. Moms need to be smart consumers and not fall for “food fear” marketing tactics. I know, it’s hard. And all too often, consumers end up paying more for the “GMO free”. Remember the “follow the money” adage? That’s exactly what this is about. It’s about the money. In regards to the General Mills Cheerios decision-the old and new Cheerios are the same. Oats are the main ingredient in Cheerios and oats are not Genetically Engineered. The little bit of sugar used for taste is highly processed, which means it contains no DNA, therefore cannot be genetically engineered. Do you see where this is going? Let’s be smart, moms. Let’s do our research and not fall into “food fear” marketing campaigns. These companies know exactly what they are doing and it means big dollars ($) for these companies.
And if this isn’t enough, we have the backing of reputable science authorities including the U.S. National Academics of Science, the British Royal Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science,the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization (and many more organizations) support the conclusion that GE foods are safe. So are you going to believe these reputable organizations or what someone, who mostly likely has no science background, has written on the Internet?
As a mom and grandma, I am not afraid of GE foods. Look at who is on our side. Science has won out and is on our side. Our intelligence is on our side. We as consumers need to stand up and be aware of our emotions and “food fear” marketing and not let it take over our common sense and our reasonableness.
And this is why it’s okay to feed your family GMO’s.
For more information about GMO’s: