It appears that a substantial share of the public is disturbed by the prospect of genetic
modification of living things and distrustful of the scientific consensus that foods
from plants containing genetically modified ingredients are safe to eat and safe for
the environment. Even before the U.S. Congress passed a law in 2016, requiring
the nationwide labeling of genetically modified food ingredients, consumers saw
more and more products labeled “GMO-free.”
In her New York Times article “Fear
Not Fact, Behind GMO Labeling,” Jane Brody noted that, “As happened with the
explosion of gluten-free products, food companies are quick to cash in on what they
believe consumers want, regardless of whether it is scientifically justified.” The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) found that GMO crops had “no differences that would implicate a higher risk to human
health.” The World Health Organization also concluded that GMOs are safe to
eat. And the FDA has banned claims that GMO free food is “safer, more nutritious
or otherwise has different attributes.”
The marketing of many products as
“Non-GMO” may be misleading because genetically modified versions of the same
product do not exist. And labeling some other foods non-GMO means little, for
example, DNA from genetically engineered feed is not passed on to meat or milk.
Some bioengineered characteristics seem to have little downside. For example,
tolerance to drought or irrigation with saltier water or resistance to insect pests
that would eliminate the need to spray with insecticides would seem to be mostly
Since introduction in the U.S. in 1996, by now, more than 90% of
the acreage of planted soybeans, cotton, corn, and sugar beets is bioengineered.450
Most U.S. corn and almost all U.S. soybeans are bioengineered so farmers can
spray them with glyphosate (the main ingredient in Roundup) to kill weeds without
harming the crop. There is a legitimate concern about the environmental impact of
the widespread use of glyphosate, a possible human carcinogen, that reached million kg annually by 2014. Public health experts urge more scrutiny of the practice and careful testing of the use of newer herbicides, including agent orange, that
are designed to work with glyphosate to combat herbicide resistance.
An analysis by the using United Nations data showed that in the United States
and Canada, bioengineered seeds have yielded no discernible advantage in crop
yields—food per acre—when measured against Western Europe, a region with
comparably modernized agricultural producers like France and Germany.
Many people are afraid of GMOs, but there is scant evidence that they cause harm
to health. Of course, society must continue to ensure that the benefits of GMOs
outweigh any risks. The NASEM recommends that new crop varieties—whether
genetically engineered or conventionally bred—be subjected to safety testing.453
Remember that conventionally bred crops undergo no government testing. Just as
there is no reason to pay extra for gluten-free foods, so far, there seems to be no
reason to select or pay more for GMO-free foods.
This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel.