Ask Us Anything About GMOs!

The Big Food companies seem to be concerned (at least in a PR way) about the problems of the world. What are they doing about the obesity epidemic in the US? It's a widely accepted belief that obesity is caused by eating processed foods, most of which contain GMOs.

A:Expert Answer

Thanks for your question. The members of this website do not produce or sell food. They make seeds and technology used in agriculture. If you have a question for food companies, we are unfortunately not the best resource. You may find more information on the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) website for health and safety:  You may also interested in, GMA’s fact page on GMOs.  

What we can address are questions about GMOs and biotechnology.   With regard to your question about GMOs and obesity, Ruth MacDonald, Professor and Chair, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University, recently posted a response on this topic. An excerpt is included below.

First, let’s start with the definition of obesity. “Obesity occurs when, over time, the body takes in more calories than it burns,” according to The Endocrine Society.  When a person’s Body Mass Index (BMI) is over 30, that person is considered obese.

Because obesity is related to the number of calories a person consumes, a GM crop would have to contain considerably more calories than non-GM varieties of that crop to be linked to obesity. But the fact is that GM crops are carefully reviewed to make sure they are substantially equivalent to non-GM crops in their composition and nutritional qualities.  This includes levels of protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamin, mineral, fiber, moisture, among others.  The caloric value of food from a GM plant will be in the same range as the comparable non-GM plant.

Whatever is causing obesity today, it isn’t the calories from GM plants. Some people have claimed that GM crops cause obesity in ways unrelated to the caloric content of the food. However, more than 150 studies have been conducted and the results of these studies do not provide any cause for concern about weight gain or other negative impacts from GMOs.

The full response can be viewed here:

Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RD at Monsanto also recently posted a response which addresses some of the points raised in your question. Wendy’s response is included below.

As a registered dietitian, I have worked with many people and organizations focused on balanced eating and active living to achieve a healthy weight over many years.  There are many factors to consider when it comes to helping individuals and our nation achieve a healthy weight; multiple sectors, including agriculture, and individual settings and factors are involved.  Take a look at the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, chapter 6, Helping Americans Make Healthy Choices, to see how all of these factors work together. We continue speak with others regarding how we can contribute to a healthful lifestyle given our focus on agriculture.

Food production starts with a seed, and this is where much of Monsanto’s business is focused. We produce a wide variety of seeds for all types and sizes of farms around the world. As members of our families and communities, our people care about how we can help contribute to a balanced plate for people all over the world. While we do not produce or sell food directly, we have a vegetable seed business (for commercial growers and home gardeners) where we seek to make vegetables and melons more appealing to and convenient for consumers.

Despite the well-documented health benefits associated with fruit and vegetable consumption, very few Americans actually meet dietary guidance recommendations. Our plant breeders are using traditional and advanced plant breeding techniques to develop improved seeds that yield vegetables and melons with excellent quality, nutrition and flavor ­ all characteristics that help increase the appeal and consumption of vegetables. This also means developing seeds that can be grown into plants that are resistant to certain plant pests and viruses. This allows healthful produce to be grown in many different regions around the world so we have consistent access to healthful vegetables and melons. Healthy plants grown in the right conditions can provide healthful food.

As a registered dietitian with a passion for great-tasting and healthful food, I find this work fascinating and extremely important.

The response can also be viewed here:

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