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Why do people eat GMO foods?

A:Expert Answer

We respect people around the world and their right to choose healthy food products that are best for them and their families. People make decisions about food—which are very important and personal decisions—for a variety of reasons. Check out this perspective from California mom and stone-fruit farmer Karri Hammerstrom. An excerpt is below. We welcome your thoughts in the comment section. 


“As a mother and a stone-fruit farmer, I constantly worry about the safety of my children and the future of food production—which makes me question a lot of things in life. Biotechnology and GMOs certainly fall into that category. However, I wholeheartedly support the use of biotechnology in the production of food, fiber, floral and fuel. For centuries, humankind has made improvements to plants through selective breeding and hybridization—the controlled pollination of plants. Plant biotechnology is an extension of traditional plant breeding, with one very important difference: biotechnology ensures the transfer of beneficial traits in a precise, controlled manner. Crops developed through biotechnology are subject to testing and monitoring at three levels of the federal government that secure food and the environmental safety of biotechnology-derived products.


“Agricultural biotechnology is probably the most intensively studied agricultural innovation of all time. Researchers of agricultural biotechnology are developing more convenient, healthier choices in grocery stores and tastier foods for the family dinner table. By creating ways to boost the nutritional value of foods using agricultural biotechnology, scientists ensure that biotech foods and crops are as safe as their nonbiotech counterparts. Researchers look at the levels of macronutrients and micronutrients, as well as fats, sugars and proteins. Every inserted gene is compared with over 500 known allergens to look for similarities. There has never been a biotech food product marketed that contained a protein similar to a known allergen. In my opinion, this probably makes biotech foods safer than all other new varieties of food crops that are not analyzed for potential allergens. Further, scientists are working to develop biotech crops that may actually be more nutritious and healthier than conventional and organic crops, as well as working to develop allergy-free peanuts and soybeans, which will benefit up to seven million Americans who suffer from food allergies.


“…Peer-reviewed scientific studies have concluded that there is no evidence that organically produced food is any safer than food produced by any other method of farming, nor is there a clear nutritional bonus to eating organic. Further, there is no evidence that genetically engineered foods currently on the market pose any human-health concern or that they are any less safe than those foods produced through traditional breeding. ‘To date, no adverse health effects attributed to genetic engineering have been documented in the human population’ (U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods: Approaches to Assessing Unintended Health Effects, 2004).


“Today, biotech ingredients can be found in 70 to 80 percent of the processed food on U.S. supermarket shelves, estimates Grocery Manufacturers of America. Biotech ingredients—which include soybeans, soy oil, soy lecithin, corn, corn syrup, canola oil, cottonseed oil and papaya—can be found in items such as cookies, crackers, taco shells, soft drinks and salad dressing.


“Again, I am confident in the safety of GMOs. I believe the best way to keep my family safe and healthy is to make sure they eat a balanced diet and make good food choices daily.”

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