Misinformation about the safety of GMOs is widespread today, especially on the Internet. Dr. Ruth MacDonald, professor and chair of the department of food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University, answers some common questions about GMOs.
Why do we use GMO technology?
GMO technology allows farmers to use fewer pesticides and fertilizers on their fields and produce higher quality and greater yields of crops. This has the potential to result in less damage to the environment and in lower food prices.
How are GMO crops made?
To make a GMO crop like corn, scientists insert a very carefully selected section of DNA into the corn plant. The DNA is converted by the plant, as part of the corn’s own DNA, into a protein. That protein gives the corn plant the ability to resist a herbicide or prevent a pest from damaging the plant. The added DNA and protein affect only the pests and herbicides, not people or animals. The added DNA and protein are broken down when we eat them, just like all the other DNA and protein already in the plant.
Are foods made with GMO plants safe to eat?
We eat DNA and proteins all the time! Every living thing, including plants, animals, and bacteria contain DNA and protein. The added versions, such as those found in GMO foods, are not different. Since the beginning of agriculture, farmers have been combining and selecting varieties to improve crops. Using modern tools, scientists speed up this process and make it much more specific.
Most of the major health organizations including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have declared that foods from GMO plants are safe. Farm animals have been consuming GMO grain for many years and the meat, milk, and eggs they produce are safe and healthy for people to eat. Farmers in the United States have been growing GMO corn and soybeans for almost 20 years and these foods and ingredients have been part of our food system all along. To date, there have been no reported cases of sickness from or allergic reactions to foods grown using GMO technology.
Is the use of GMO technology monitored?
Before farmers can grow foods that contain GMO technology, rigorous testing is done to make sure the plants are safe for the environment, animals, and humans. Government agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), carefully examine the plants for safety and only those that pass are allowed to be grown.
Are GMO foods labeled?
FDA scientists are responsible for food labels, and they agree that foods produced with GMO technology are as safe and nutritious as other foods—and therefore do not need to be labeled. Some food companies have chosen not to use GMO ingredients in their products, like Cheerios©. General Mills, the company that makes Cheerios©, has said that they are not concerned about the safety of GMOs but believe some consumers might want to have
For more information about GMOs visit: www.GMOAnswers.com and www.foodintegrity.org