The Future of GMOs … It’s Complicated.

Indeed it is. As trends continue to push towards greater awareness of the correlation between wellness and food, the topic of GMO is getting more and more attention.

There is no simple answer to whether or not people should avoid GMOs. There is no simple answer to whether or not Farmers should avoid feeding GMOs to animals sold for consumption.  Conventional wisdom would seem to say we are better off taking the “let’s prove something is safe” approach as opposed to the current “let’s assume it is safe until we have evidence it isn’t.”

But our regulatory environment will probably never move as quickly as the combination of science and capitalism, and GMOs increase yield, and thus profit.  Yet at the same time, lumping all GMOs into one bucket of which we should be scared is oversimplifying the topic and not necessarily the position to take.

Chefs and parents are passionately driven to serve real, natural food. Casually, we know what we mean when we use those descriptors but from a regulatory standpoint, labeling and sourcing disclosures do not allow consumers to always know what they are buying or consuming. In addition, if multiple generations of farmers have bred a strain of wheat by cross-pollinating species, should we fear this man-made wheat? Or do we just fear the scientific approach when genes are taken from one species and injected into another? The questions go on and on.

Thus, chefs and parents need to push for disclosure, awareness, education, and research.  Jumping straight to the conclusion that all GMOs are bad is as silly as presuming that all GMOs are safe and will never cause problems with human health or the environment.

So, what exactly is a GMO?

Genetically Modified Organisms (aka GMOs) are foods in which the natural, genetic material has been engineered or altered. This generally occurs quite often in foods where items such as preservatives and the like are added. But, many food purchasers are now consciously not buying items containing GMOs and large companies, like Whole Foods, are similarly taking action to ensure that products they sell either don’t contain GMOs or are labeled if they do.

For example, Whole Foods is the first national grocery store to remove GMO-laden items from their shelves and set a deadline for GMO labeling by recently announcing that by 2018, all products containing GMOs in their U.S. and Canada stores must be labeled to provide patrons with purchasing transparency.

For more information, here’s an info graphic outlining GMO’s by the numbers plus a breakdown of the public debate surrounding GMO’s and their labeling*, also visit justlabelit.org.

*NOTE: the jury is still out on GMO labeling, but according to the latest research highlighted on the info graphic: 27 states have either passed or have legislation pending GMO labeling measures, and according to a Huff Post/YouGov poll 82% of Americans think GMO foods should be labeled.

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