Avoiding GMOs? Choose organic foods

Avoiding GMOs? Choose organic foods

Which choice is better?


GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are crops that have been changed through genetic engineering in order to introduce a desired trait. Such as improving resistance to plant diseases, or to add nutritional value. Not a bad idea, using modern techniques of inserting DNA into the gene of another plant to supply more food for the world's growing population.  Plant breeding used to take years to improve plant stock. Now it is done scientifically in the lab. In essence, a modern version of a traditional technique.

But are they safe? The answer is probably yes. A thoroughly researched 2016 National Academy of Sciences Report on 'Genetically Engineered Crops' found no risk to human health.

The first product, a tomato that has a longer-shelf life and is more resistant to freezing was only released in 1994. And while no study has yet shown a problem for those consuming these products (and there are dozens of them now), some people have concerns. Such as a new crop of weeds and worms that are resistant to some herbicides (in the same way that some bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics). 

If you are concerned about genetically modified foods, choose organic foods. These foods do not contain genetically modified genes.

Keep in mind that foods labelled natural are not necessarily organically grown or certified. The FDA is working on a full transparency labeling program that would give consumers more information.

Avoiding GMOs? Choose organic

Are organic foods worth the extra cost?

That brings up the larger question, are organic products worth the premium you pay for them? I have to hedge that answer. Studies have not shown any difference in outcomes for individuals eating organic foods compared to those who don't. But (big but here), the organic movement has been in evolution since the '70s. The US organic program has only been in place for the last 20 years. So not all the data is in–though organic advocates do anecdotally say they feel better and plan to continue, even with the extra cost.

Bottom line

Organically certified products exclude GMOs, and require specific health-conscious farming methods. However, nutritional studies have not shown any difference in nutritional quality and outcomes for those eating only organically grown foods.