So, are GMO’s unhealthy? What should you know about them? How can you really know what foods contain GMO ingredients and which don’t? Weighing in on this topic is fellow Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and GMO expert Ashley Koff RD. I’m letting her take it from here answering the most common questions I receive about GMO’s!
You are looking at labels, buying organic when you can, and trying to get better nutrition because you know it enables better health. But are you consuming GMOs? Are they diet deductos? Inquiring minds want to know, so here are answers to get you better informed and help you get better nutrition, simplified.
What are GMO’s?
Let’s start with what they are not. We are not talking about all biotech here – medications, medical treatments, selective breeding, hybrids – there are lots of things that fall under the large biotech umbrella, including GMOs, but it’s important that we don’t lump them all together when considering health impact. GMOs are genetically modified organisms; this means modification occurs at the genetic (DNA) level where modification (changes) are made. This may be to remove an enzyme that makes an apple turn brown, it could be to make a plant resistant to a pesticide or herbicide, etc.
What does the research say about GMO’s?
Not enough for me – a registered dietitian who recommends better nutrition to enable better health for all of her patients. Not enough for global healthcare providers and countries to feel completely comfortable with unregulated consumption. There are over 60 countries that ban or require labeling of products containing GMOs – that includes countries like England where a label states “made with genetically modified ingredients” on the same food product that is sold in the USA without that label. How much GMO food is a safe amount daily, in a lifetime? We don’t have that information – scientific or anecdotally. If you are sick or a young child or pregnant – are any GMOs safe for you to consume? We don’t have this research. The research on safety that we do have includes that funded by the companies that manufacture the GMOs and they present short-term safety results. For more about who should be especially concerned about GMOs and how to reduce your intake download these tools: http://bit.ly/1XCaFzl and http://bit.ly/1XCaHY7
What should the consumer look for?
The USDA organic logo. It’s your easiest tool for avoiding GMOs as they are not allowed in the organic production system. You can look for the Non-GMO Project Verified seal which is a third party evaluation that many companies pay to have their products obtain to provide you, and them, assurance that their products avoid GMOs. Remember this counts for your supplements (protein powders, fiber, multis) too! For more of what to look for and what to avoid download these Non-GMO tools http://bit.ly/1XCaFzl and http://bit.ly/1XCaHY7
What does the future of GMO labeling look like?
Complicated but it could be simple with a national label that mandates GMO ingredients be labeled on product packages that contain them – this will help restaurants, hospital, and schools be able to source and clearly communicate what they choose to offer to their customers. Labeling GMOs is not different than other health information already required on packages; labels tell us how much sodium, trans fat or saturated fat, fiber or sugar a food product contains per serving. Globally, food manufacturers already label food products as containing GMOs, so why should we not have a right to know if our food is GMO? Consumer pressure and the recent decision to label food products by several food companies spurred the government to work to develop labeling recommendations – the real issues are a) whether it will be voluntary or required b) whether the companies that use GMOs will need to what the companies that don’t have been doing for you c) will the information be presented on package or require you to have a smart phone and QR code to download the information d) whether the laws will be different by state or the same across the nation. For more information, check out JustLabelIt.org. Want to know how to shop Non-GMO or what foods you should definitely consume non-GMO? You can get the Better Nutrition Simplified Non-GMO quick start shopping guide here.
So there you have it!
Ideally purchase foods that are organic and non-GMO, especially those foods that are most commonly a GMO food. I hope this blog post gives you the knowledge and empowers your choices while shopping. What do you think? Share your thoughts in a comment below – I’d love to hear!
Thanks to Ashley for this post! Ashley Koff RD created The Better Nutrition and Simplified Program, and her work is featured in outlets such as The New York Times, Wall St Journal, Prevention, O!: The Oprah Magazine, Shape and the Huffington Post. You can keep up with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you want to read up even more on GMO’s, Ashley has offered NS readers 50% off with coupon code BDAY50!