So what’s the deal? You seem to hear and see these three letters at every grocery store or farmers market out there. But what does “GMO” even stand for? Or better yet, what do these three letters even mean?
And, oh my goodness! Why is everyone, especially those in this video, so hyped up about it?
Well, let me lay it out for you all. First, “GMO” stands for:
Genetically Modified Organisms
*Side note: GMOs are also known as Biotech or Genetically Engineered
To some, this may sound pretty scary, huh?
But before we get into whatever pros and cons you may have heard from your friends, let’s also look at the definition of a GMO.
According to the FDA, GMO refers to the alteration of a plant’s “traits and characteristics… to enhance the growth and nutritional profile.”
That doesn’t sound too bad, right?
Here’s a quick list of why GMO foods are “good”:
- Allows crops to be resistant to pests, herbicides, and disease
- For example, Monsanto developed a type of soybean that is herbicide (weed killer) resistant. This way, farmers gain a larger crop yield.
- Weather, such as drought, tolerance
- Antifreeze genes from cold-water fish can now be implemented into crops to help them withstand colder temperatures that would normally kill them off.
- Expanded food supply
- As malnutrition continues to be an ongoing problem in third world countries, scientists behind GM crops have successfully added Vitamin A to rice, also known as “golden rice”.
Now here’s a list of why GMO foods are “bad”:
- Present new allergens
- Since the 1990s, when GMO crops were first introduced, the rate of Americans who developed chronic diseases and food allergies greatly increased.
- Development of “super” weeds
- GMO crops were developed to protect plants from herbicides. Over time, weeds become resistant to these herbicides, pushing farmers to spray more potent and more toxic herbicides on their crops.
- Decrease in Antibiotic Effectiveness
- Some GMO crops are engineered to have antibiotic characteristics. When consumed, this characteristic carries on in our bodies and can cause antibiotic medicine to become less effective.
With these pros & cons at hand (in addition to the many others out there), it is ultimately up to you as a consumer to choose what type of produce you want to buy.
If you are concerned about GMOs keep an eye out for Non-GMO Project’s special label (shown below) on products in your grocery market.
In addition, as non-GMO/ “organic” products tend to be a bit pricier, here are some helpful tips to buying such products.
Image: Documentary about the GMO Industry
by Janelle Marzano (Sustainability and Nutrition Intern)