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Uncovering the Truth About GMOs: Everything You Need to Know

By Erica F Perusse


There are a lot of food labels out there, and it is only natural to have several questions surrounding them. With everyone's opinions floating around on social media, it is hard to figure out what to do when understanding food terms and labels.


A study published in March of 2023 analyzed the most common online emotions related to the term GMO (genetically modified organisms). Would you be surprised to know that "disgust" was the most prominent emotion expressed, with the emotion of "joy" as the second largest percentage?


People are either for or against GMOs, and we wanted to shed some light on the topic to help you make a more informed choice. So, let us break this down.


What are GMOs?


The history of genetic modifications goes back pretty far! We are talking back Circa 800 BCE where people used traditional modification methods like selective breeding and crossbreeding of plants and animals to acquire more desirable traits. It was not until 1982 before the FDA approved the first consumer GMO product development through genetic engineering (the creation of human insulin to treat diabetes).


Genetically modified organisms (commonly known as GMOs) are food product (animal, plant, or microorganism) that has gone through a process scientist call genetic engineering. This means that it has had its genetic material changed using technology that modifies the DNA of the product to identify, copy, insert, and grow the food with a given desired trait.


Some genetic engineering includes:

  • more nutritious foods

  • enhanced flavor

  • disease (and drought-resistant plants that require fewer environmental resources (like water and fertilizer)

  • an increase supply of food with the benefit of reduced cost and longer shelf life

  • plus medicinal foods could be used as vaccines or medicines


What are the rules around them?


GMOs are highly regulated by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since the early 1990s. This means that GMOs are carefully studied before being sold to the public to ensure safety.


Some U.S. approved GMO grown crops are :


  • Alfalfa

  • Apples

  • Canola

  • Corn

  • Cotton

  • Papaya

  • Pink Pineapple

  • Potatoes

  • Soybeans

  • Summer Squash

  • Sugar Beets


Do GMOs impact your health?


Since 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been developing guidelines and standard to determine and improve the evaluation of genetically modified foods. They have been working on increasing the nutrient content of foods, decreasing allergens, and making food products more sustainable or efficient.


One example is GMO soybeans with healthier oils that can replace oils containing trans fats. Since GMO foods were introduced in the 1990s, has shown that they are just as safe as non-GMO foods.


Another product commonly talked about and talked about in nutrition science courses is the invention of the first hybrid cord product produced and sold commercial called "golden rice". Golden rice is genetically modified rice during a time when countries were experiencing a Vitamin A deficiency. This rice was golden or orangish in color, and contained higher concentrations of beta-carotene. It potentially mitigated some of the 250,000 yearly cases of blindness associated with Vitamin A deficiency.


Another popular question : Is there a connection between GMO foods and antibiotics or steroids?


No, there is not a connection. The FDA website states that “GMO foods do not contain more antibiotic or steroid residues than the non-GMO versions of those foods. There is no connection between whether a food is a GMO or non-GMO and whether or not it has any antibiotic or steroid residues.”


The FDA also reports that studies show that the "health and safety of animals are the same whether they eat GMO or non-GMO foods." Plus, advising that "No study has revealed any differences in the nutritional profile of animal products derived from GE-fed animals."


Wait, I have seen another labels about GMOs. What do they mean?


Think along the lines about organic labeling - - the same process goes for GMO and non-GMO labeling.


The term “bioengeneered” was approved by Congress in 2016. The USDA shares on its website that "B.E. food labels are for marketing purposes and do not convey any information about the health, safety, or environmental attributes of that food compared to non-bioengineered counterparts."



Some food products even have a label that says "derived from bioengineering" or "ingredients derived from a bioengineered source." The company wanted to disclose that they use highly refined ingredients (like some sugars and oils) that "do not contain detectable modified genetic material" in the finished products.


Companies have elected to voluntarly communicate on their products that they are non-GE (which is the "Non-GMO Project Verified" label). Non-GMO Project Verified products must meet a threshold of no more than about 0.9 % geneticlly engineered content by weight, which is similar to the E.U.'s threshold for mandatory labeling of processed foods made with G.E. ingredients.


Back to deciding your choice


To answer the question, "Should I eat GMOs?" it will come down to your personal beliefs and lifestyle. However, here at NWE, all food is edible food as long as it is not spoiled (rotten, old, contaminated, not edible) or if you are allergic to it!


Do you have a question about another food label or food term? Contact us at nourishedwithemily@gmail.com, and we will share the facts with you!


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