This blog post is based on the recent release of this article by ScienceAlert
Genetically modified (GM) foods have been around for a lot longer than most people commonly think. The question is, are GM foods worth avoiding and paying more for non-GMO for the sake of you own health and the environment?
Short answer: NOPE, and here’s why…
(1) GM-foods are SAFE to eat
The recently released research looked at over 900 articles (that’s a lot of research, folks) found that GM-foods are safe to eat. I think the biggest reason behind the fear of GM-foods and why companies capitalise on it to sell their non-GM foods – is due to a lack of understanding about what it is.
So here we go, genetically modified foods are indeed genetically modified, their DNA has been altered for some particular purpose. However, this is usually to benefit the farmer – the genes introduced to the crops can be for insect resistance to prevent the use of insecticide sprays (expensive and laborious to spray crops), it also makes the food look like what we expect to look like. Genetic modification is only ever introduced to benefit the farmer and/or consumer and must be proven to be safe for consumption before it can be sold to farmers. There is a flip side to this though and that is GM-crops are quite expensive for farmers and may not increase crop yields.
Genetic modification is actually just a way of accelerating selective breeding, a practice farmers have been doing since agriculture began 10,000 years ago. Instead of gradually breeding in/out the desired or unwanted gene over many generations, whereas genetic modification can simply “knock-out” the unwanted gene and replace it with something else (this is just one of many possibilities).
(2) GM-foods are everywhere
Something many members of the public don’t know is that many foods that are eaten regularly are genetically modified. A great example – the humble banana:
A wild banana looks something like this…
And what about the original peaches?
I think these pictures speak for themselves.
(3) GM foods are not necessarily bad for the environment
This study also showed that GM-crops do not impact plant and insect diversity. It is possible for GM crops to enter the “wild” population (mainly because you cannot control where bees go and therefore pollination of other plants can happen far away from a crop), there has been little impact of this phenomenon.
Long story short, GM-foods are safe to eat, not necessarily bad for the environment and you’ve probably been eating them unawares since you were a child. Hopefully, this would have opened your eyes and saved you a few dollars if you’ve been buying foods for their “non-GMO” label.