Experts Debate: Should You Eat GMO Foods?

Cassie Shortsleeve
by Cassie Shortsleeve
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Experts Debate: Should You Eat GMO Foods?

Just like ‘organic’ or ‘all-natural,’ ‘GMO’ (genetically modified organisms) is one of those health buzzwords you’ve likely heard a lot of conflicting information about. In reality, “when the DNA of a plant or animal is altered to introduce or modify genetic traits, you have a Genetically Modified (GM) food, also known as Genetically Engineered (GE) food,” explains Ryan D. Andrews, RD, author of “A Guide to Plant-Based Eating.” Ever since GE crops were introduced in the 1990s — the most common being soybeans and corn — pesticide application has risen exponentially, he says.

As a result, you might wonder whether these foods have a place in a healthy, well-balanced diet. Here, dietitians take sides.

About the Author

Cassie Shortsleeve
Cassie Shortsleeve

Cassie Shortsleeve is a Boston-based freelance writer and editor. She has worked on staff at both Shape and Men’s Health and contributes regularly to a slew of national print and digital publications such as Women’s Health, Condé Nast Traveler, and Furthermore for Equinox. With a degree in English and creative writing from the College of the Holy Cross, she has a passion for reporting on all things health, lifestyle, and travel.


4 responses to “Experts Debate: Should You Eat GMO Foods?”

  1. Avatar Jen says:

    GM plants aren’t being sprayed with extra pesticides and they aren’t being modified to withstand pesticides, because pesticides affect pests, not plants. GM plants are actually being modified to resist the pests so that pesticides don’t have to be sprayed. Plants, over time, have adapted to withstand pests in their natural habitats, but we farm crops all over the world where they have not had the time to adapt natural defenses.

    In addition, GMOs are being modified to resist disease, withstand drought, and have other beneficial traits.

    There is no increased risk of allergens in GMOs. The genes in these plants are studied and tested extensively. They are screened against all known allergens.

    These are the most studied, tested, and regulated crops. Not a single case of a health related issue has ever been documented.

    It’s also a huge misconception that farmers are spraying pesticides excessively. They’re expensive. Farmers only use what they need to. It’s in the farmers’ best interests to spray chemicals sparingly to save money, prevent resistant pest populations, and damage to the ecology of their farmland.

    I’m disappointed in how poorly researched and misinformed the “case” against GMOs is. Being an expert in nutrition does not make a person an expert in agriculture and biotechnology.

    • Avatar LaurieJohns says:

      Agree with you both here; seems like a farmer’s perspective and a health reporter’s perspective is needed here, so forgive my (somewhat) long rant; so much wrong with Ryan Andrews’ perspective, which serves up a big ole’ serving of Fear! GM plants don’t use MORE pesticides—-they use LESS! Because they resist pests and fungus better than non-GM crops, and are bred over decades to tolerate poor soil or adverse weather, they are hardier. They don’t spoil as fast, aren’t ‘pock-marked’ by pests, and, yes, most would agree that means they taste better. Nutrition is absolutely NO different from organic. In fact, (for folks reading this who don’t farm) did you know that organic farmers use pesticides and herbicides and fertilzer, too? Just different than conventional crops. But, because organic farming is more labor intensive and yields aren’t always the same, there’s a price difference. That’s it.
      So, at the end of the day, it comes down to choice—-you want them, farmers will grow them. The choice is yours but don’t think for a minute that one is more nutritious or ‘safer’ than the other. Meanwhile, this demonization of conventional farming and GM crops is not supported by science and has to stop. If MyFitnessPal readers or writer Cassie Shortsleeve needs a more credible dietician to do these kinds of articles, I would recommend she seek out Dr Ruth MacDonald—one of the nation’s most respected food scientists and a R.N. She’s a Mom. A professor. And author. And she understands farming and food. And hey, remember folks; science is sexy.

      • Avatar KS says:

        Thank you, Laurie. I have discussed this with several scientists, as well studied all the issues surrounding these. I also studied all the organic non-GMO food issues for years, trying to decide what’s best, and you just confirmed what I’ve found regarding pesticides and organic food, etc. We have a world that needs to be fed and GMO has definitely reduced famine and food shortage. Plus, given us a wonderful variety of food. Processed food is still a problem but perhaps if fresh food were more affordable, as the GMO’s are, there would be less demand. We never had fresh produce in my home growing up because it was unaffordable. So thankful for our diligent farmers. They now feed the world.

  2. Avatar DoctorJoeE says:

    This debate should have ended in 2016 when the National Academy of Science published an exhaustive report showing there was no credible evidence to support ANY of the anti-GMO safety arguments. But of course, they just doubled down, like the anti-vaxxers and climate change deniers. The safety debate is over. If you vaccinate your kids, and believe climate change is real, you need to stop being scared of GM foods.

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