The GMO Food Label: Wide Spread Confusion About GMO

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

Current research does not universally support the claim that genetically modified (GM) crops have lower nutritional value than non-GM crops; nutritional content can vary based on specific crop modifications and growing conditions.

The FDA, along with other regulatory agencies worldwide, requires that GM foods undergo safety evaluations, including assessments for potential toxicological and allergenic effects, before they are marketed.

Genetic engineering allows for specific changes to be made to an organism’s DNA. While any form of plant breeding can cause unintended changes, genetic engineering is considered precise in its ability to target specific traits, and all GM crops undergo rigorous safety assessments.

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.

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.

Many GMOs are Engineered with Patents on Them

While many GMOs are patented, this is not exclusive to genetically modified organisms. Both conventional and genetically modified seeds can be patented, but the existence of a patent does not inherently restrict traditional farming practices or the use of the seeds for planting.

Regulatory bodies, not the biotech industry alone, are responsible for determining the safety of GMO products. In the United States, the FDA, USDA, and EPA all regulate GMOs, requiring extensive safety testing before commercial release.

This policy is called “substantial equivalence” but has flaws in common sense and logic, making it not so substantial.

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.

Extensive Research Has Been Conducted on GMOs

These researches involve numerous independent and industry-funded studies. Regulatory agencies worldwide require comprehensive safety data before approving GM crops for cultivation and food use.

A wide range of stakeholders, including academic and government researchers, can conduct studies on GMOs. The FDA regulates the safety of foods and food ingredients, including those derived from GMOs, but does not grant permits for human research based on patent control.

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.

Final Thoughts

Food labels are designed to help us make informed choices about what we eat, but for many, 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 their consumption.

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Current Version
February 19, 2022
Written By
Shubham Grover
March 26, 2024
Updated By
Andrea Morales G.

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