The introduction of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), has sparked numerous controversies surrounding how GMOs affect human health. There are numerous arguments to be made supporting both sides; however, health experts around the globe have not come to a clear consensus on which to support. As a result, many popular food companies, such as General Mills, Post, and Nabisco, have included non-GMO labeling on their products to promote them. As consumers spot these labels in the grocery store, they are more compelled to purchase them, since they believe they are healthier than the foods that contain GMOs. However, many do not understand the true implications of GMOs, which lead them to have a false perspective of what GMOs are.
Genetically Modified Organisms are organisms whose genetic material has been altered in order to achieve a desired outcome of that same organism. These aspects could include color, size, and taste, and are all altered using extremely advanced genetic engineering techniques. However, due to this modified state of GMOs, many misconceptions have risen on how GMOs affect health, and what consuming them implies for the future. One of the biggest concerns regarding GMOs is the possibility that they could trigger an allergic reaction, which can be life-threatening to someone with severe allergies. However, according to Harvard University, after 30 years of lab research and over 15 years of field research, not one health risk associated with GMO consumption has been discovered. Moreover, before a product containing GMOs reaches the public, scientists assess the likelihood of the product triggering a food allergy. So while there is minimal risk, scientists confirm the safety of the product before it is released. Some may argue that GMO foods may increase the possibility of long-term health issues; however, there is no evidence to support this. The American Cancer Society has stated that there is no scientific proof that GMO foods increase cancer risk, and while cancer rates are rising in the United States, there is no evidence that the incline in cases coincides with the consumption of GMO foods. As of 2022, even the Food and Drug Administration says that consuming GMO foods is the same as consuming Non-GMO foods. In fact, certain GMOs have been proven to possess beneficial aspects. For example, scientists have been able to genetically modify certain bacteria to form medicines and vaccines to prevent diseases. Insulin is an example of genetic modification used to treat diabetes, which is a significant discovery considering that there are now more opportunities to obtain new medicines and vaccines. Specific GMOs have even been proven to increase nutrition in certain foods. In particular, genetically modified soybeans contain oils that replace the oils that contain trans fats, (the least healthy fats to eat). Some GMOs can contribute to the resolution of food scarcity, since certain GMO foods are meant to withstand all climate types, including deserts, making food more accessible to people in places unsuitable for certain food growth. This is a fantastic accomplishment, especially as the population grows. Furthermore, GMOs can decrease pesticide use, water waste, and carbon emissions. In 2014, an analysis of 147 studies found that GMO technology had reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, ultimately resulting in a healthier Earth.
Since there are no risks surrounding the consumption of GMOs, and instead benefits, there may not be a need to address the non-GMO aspects on certain food labels. If someone chooses to eat a food consisting of GMOs, rather than a food that is non-GMO, it may lead to unnecessary angst and stress. They may think they are consuming a food that could be detrimental to their health, however, as proven on multiple occasions, this is not the case. Furthermore, if consuming GMO foods is the same as consuming non-GMO foods, it is not worth the money and resources to provide these labels for certain foods. Wouldn’t we rather use this money to improve the quality of ingredients or packaging, instead of providing non-GMO labels? It is essential in life to be aware of what you are putting in your body, because, after all, you are what you eat; however, I am not sure if differentiating GMO foods from non-GMO foods is what we should be spending our time and resources on.