GMOs have a bad reputation. Food labels proudly boast “Non-GMO” at the grocery store, and many consumers are willing to pay a little bit more for products labeled this way. In the past decade, the number of shoppers who refuse to buy items made with genetically modified ingredients has nearly tripled.
As of August 2019, 46% of individuals surveyed said they avoid these foods. Are they really bad for us, though? Let us know what you think below and then keep reading for the rundown on GMOs and the role they play in agriculture.
What Are GMOs?
GMO stands for “Genetically Modified Organism.” When talking about food, it means that growers use genes that they insert into the DNA of a plant or animal to yield “better” or “more desirable” results, explains Purdue University.
These results may mean bigger berries, chickens with more meat on their bones, or crops that withstand growing conditions that are less than ideal. They can also help protect crops from bacteria and fungi that have the potential to wipe out entire harvests.
The use of GMOs is relatively new, and the practice of altering food with the organisms sprang to popularity just in the past two decades. While some countries ban the use of these organisms over public health concerns, international researchers generally agree that GMOs are safe. It’s possible that in the future, we’ll look back and deem the use of GMOs to be one of the diet trends of the past. However, as it looks right now, that’s not likely.
The Rise Against GMOs
Many people oppose the use of GMOs in food, but where does the fear stem from? More than 80% of Americans buy organic food each year as the popularity of natural products continues to increase. It’s a social phenomena that those who go all-natural shy away from words that sound scary; like “genetically modified.”
News outlets report that nearly 75% of individuals believe GMOs are bad for their health, yet when put to the test, very few could describe why they believe this. Schools including the University of Colorado, the University of Toronto, and the University of Pennsylvania ran studies showing that individuals tend to have negative feelings towards GMOs because they are “unnatural.” It’s human nature.
The fear is entirely natural- but what does science say?
What Science Says
The European Union studied the use of GMOs for a decade to determine the impact they have on consumer health, the environment, and economic security. The study shows that GMOs help protect against food insecurity and are effective in preventing plant disease. They help farmers in underdeveloped nations keep up with food demand and feed growing populations.
Additionally, the research shows there are no adverse effects on human health from consuming products that are genetically modified. Since GMOs are still relatively new, studies continue, but the results are promising so far.
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