GMOs are one of the most hotly debated topics of our time — and it’s not a friendly discussion. One side tells you that GMOs are threatening the safety of our children; the other says that anti-GMO activists don’t care about solving world hunger. As the average consumer without any particular agenda (other than staying healthy and doing good), it’s often difficult to find the facts.
We did a bunch of research, identified the main myths surrounding GMOs, and are giving you unbiased, raw facts so you can come to a conclusion on your own.
MYTH #1: Consuming GMOs is unsafe and harmful to human health.
Within the scientific community, the wide consensus is that genetically modified food is no less safe for consumption than ‘regular’ food. And no, not all of this research was funded by “Big Ag.” Unbiased organizations like the World Health Organization, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science support this position.
In fact, there has only been one study that showed GMOs to be dangerous, indicating that a GMO diet gave rats tumors. It was retracted back in 2013 due to insufficient evidence.
Furthermore, biotech companies consult with the Food and Drug Administration regularly and perform extensive allergy and toxicity testing. Although these tests are not required, if these tests are not done, the FDA can block the product at its own volition.
MYTH #2: If you employ any kind of logical mind, the fact that GMOs are safe is uncontested.
Scientific research has shown that there are no measurable effects on human health now. That’s not to say there aren’t concerns. With relatively new science like genetic modification, it can take decades for the cumulative effects on humans to reveal themselves.
So just because we can’t see the negative effects this very second doesn’t mean they won’t appear. GMO opponents argue that more research is needed before we consume GMOs regularly. In the meantime, we should exercise caution and restraint as we foray into this new world.
MYTH #3: GMOs are brand new. Therefore, we can’t really know whether or not they’re safe.
GMOs have been commercially available since 1994, which means people have been eating GMOs for 24 years. So yes, in the grand scheme of things, 24 years isn’t very long. However, it is enough time for over 1,700 peer-reviewed safety studies to be published and generally agree that GMOs are not riskier than conventional crops.
Furthermore, GMOs aren’t as rare as people think. More than 93% of the corn, cotton, and soy are GM. Additionally, 70% of your processed supermarket foods contain GMOs. So you’ll probably eat genetically modified food today and tomorrow and the next day.
MYTH #4: GMOs are bad for the environment.
Most scientific organizations aren’t sold on this. As long as GMOs are carefully used, it’s hard to see a special environmental threat.
In 2010, the National Research Council concluded that genetically engineered crops have actually had less negative effects on the environment than conventionally produced crops.
However, that’s not to say caution wasn’t aired in the report. Excessive reliance on this new technology combined with undiverse farming practices might cause issues. Certainly, it might undo the advantages of genetically engineered crops.
MYTH #5: GMOs will solve global hunger.
Because GM crops are specifically engineered to survive better, genetically modified crops could significantly boost food output, providing a more food-secure world.
…But it’s certainly not enough and it’s probably not even essential.
To say that GMOs alone can cure world hunger is just not true. However, in a world facing climate change and rapid population growth, it might be a good tool to have in our belt.
As with any new scientific innovation, there comes a level of caution and debate — as there should be. However as emotions (and agendas) get involved in the dialogue, it is easy for the truth to get mired in fiction.
By debunking these GMO myths and removing bias from facts, we hope to help the average consumer make the decision about food consumption that best fits them and their needs. Because we believe you have the right to informed food decisions.
If you have any further questions, Vox has a fairly comprehensive and unbiased guide to all things GMO related.
Decoding complicated food terminology is one of our specialties. Click here to read the bare truth about organic eating.