The GMO Food Label
Having a conversation about GMOs is difficult because there is widespread ignorance and confusion around the topic.
Even medical practitioners are often left without a clue as to what GMOs are, or how to advise their patients who ask about them.
With that in mind, here are some of the things that you should let your patients know about the GMO food label.
GMO Does Not Translate to Healthy
Today’s transgenic crops actually have lower amounts of vitamins and minerals than their non-GMO counterparts.
GMO crops are not evaluated for their carcinogenic or toxic effects – The FDA does not require any safety studies on genetically engineered food because they believe that it is no different from any other type of food so long as it meets all the criteria for identity, purity and composition.
This belief is a major fallacy because genetic engineering is an imprecise technology and can cause changes in plant metabolism that may be harmful.
Genetically Modified Foods are Not New
Humans have been modifying crops for thousands of years through selective breeding or hybridization. All common varieties of corn, for example, were created by humans through cross-pollination from wild grass species called teosintes.
Up until recently, the biggest change farmers made to the characteristics of plants was by cross-breeding them with other plants to create desired traits – like making corn sweeter or more resistant to pests.
There’s No Evidence That GMO Food is Unsafe
Genetically modified foods are one of the safest forms of food on the market today.
The National Academy of Sciences has found that “no adverse health effects attributed to genetic engineering have been documented in the human population.
In fact, there’s more evidence suggesting that non-GMO foods are less safe than GMO foods.
Most Processed Food Contains GMO Ingredients
The rapid growth of the processed food industry means that virtually any packaged food you pick up from the grocery store shelf will contain at least some genetically modified ingredients.
However, most foods with a label that states they’re “natural” or “all-natural” are not guaranteed to be GMO-free, so you’ll need to carefully read each ingredient list to ensure that you’re buying truly all-natural foods.
All GMOs are Engineered with Patents on Them
This means that seed companies can legally control farmers’ use of the seed through harsh legal tactics like lawsuits and by restricting access to future seeds.
Farmers whose crop contains patented genes can also be at risk of being sued for “using patented technology.”
This is one reason why Monsanto has sued more than 100 farmers for patent infringement; many of these farmers say they never even knew that their crops were genetically engineered.
The policy that regulates genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food supply is to let the industry decide whether their products are safe by not requiring any safety studies to be done before their commercialization in our food supply.
This policy is called “substantial equivalence” but has many flaws in common sense and logic, making it not so substantial after all.
GMOs are Safe to Eat
Most of the doctors I talked with said that GMOs are safe for human consumption.
They emphasized that our bodies have always been exposed to alterations in our genetic makeup through natural processes like evolution or cross-breeding.
They also noted that genetic engineering is a very precise process, which allows scientists to isolate specific genes and introduce them into the DNA of another organism, rather than messing up everything at once.
There’s not Much Research on GMOs
This isn’t because they aren’t studied — there’s just not a lot of money to be made from scientific studies on GMOs.
Big Agricultural corporations control most of the patents on GMO seeds and only they can request permission to study their effects in humans by submitting applications for “research use only” permits to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The FDA has granted thousands of these permits since 1992, but those studies have been conducted by scientists who work for these companies and who often have conflicts of interest.
Food labels are designed to help us make informed choices about what we eat, but for many people, the labels can become as confusing as a game of “Where’s Waldo?”
For the average person, a quick look at their cereal box or breakfast bar reveals a list of ingredients that is so long, they might feel a sense of dread.
By letting your patients know what we have discussed here, they will be more informed about what they choose to consume.
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