QHasn’t the rise in obesity been linked directly to when GMOs were introduced into our diet?

Hasn’t the rise in obesity been linked directly to when GMOs were introduced into our diet?

AExpert Answer

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 and moisture, among others.  The caloric value of food from a GM plant will be in the same range as that of 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.

 

Some have raised concern that high-fructose corn syrup, which is processed primarily from GM corn, may be especially responsible for the obesity rise. However, research has shown HFCS provides the same calories and is used by the body in the same way as table sugar. Excessive calorie intake, regardless of the source, with inadequate physical activity is the primary cause of obesity in most people. 

 

Some companies are using genetic modification to improve the nutritional value of crops, such as soybeans. These nutritionally improved GM soybeans contain more oleic acid―an unsaturated fatty acid found in olive oil―and significantly fewer saturated fatty acids than traditional soybeans.

 

 

“Feed from Transgenic Plants in Animal Nutrition,” Gerhard Flachowsky, Institute of Animal Nutrition, German Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, Braunschweig, Germany, GMSAFOOD Conference, Vienna, March 2012.

 

For information about obesity and its causes, check out the following resources:

Posted on January 31, 2018
Thank you for your question. There are various aspects of your question. I assume your question refers to the use of Agrobacterium rhizogenes by scientists to intentionally transfer genes from the bacterium to plants. Infection and DNA transfer from this bacterium occurs in nature all the time to cause disease. Such transformed plants are not classified as GMOs since transfer occurred naturally. If this is done by scientists then it would be classified as a GMO. Rules and... Read More
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Posted on March 1, 2018
I’m a Monsanto scientist who has more than 20 years of experience with genetic modification of plants. I will try to answer your question, even though I don’t ever do experiments on animals, certainly not on humans, of course! Can humans be genetically modified…but a much bigger question is should humans be genetically modified? There are two ways to think about genetic modification of humans (or any animal). One way is modification of somatic cells, and the other is the... Read More
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Posted on May 10, 2017
The simple answer is that 20+ years of composition assessments of GMO crops have demonstrated that crop composition is not appreciably affected by the GM process (1). In addition, data collected through that time have indicated that general factors such as the growth environment can contribute to notable variation in component levels (2). Plant agglutinins (or lectins) and amylase inhibitors are examples of anti-nutritional compounds that may be present in crops. The relevance of such a... Read More

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