Are All Foods GMO’s?
I often think about how the food we eat now isn't the same as what our ancestors were eating, and how it could be disrupting the natural function of digestion. I ask myself if our bodies have evolved to digest and effectively use the ever changing genetic makeup of the food we have today? The answer is not straightforward.
Farming and cooking have changed through the years. Today we have new food inventions happening all the time that can be found in the grocery or the plant stores. The question of if the advancement in food is good or bad has somewhat turned into a argument, because some people take different sides and often feel strongly about their choice. This topic has gotten so popular there have been articles published in the NY times, Forbes, Harvard, and Purdue websites talking about them and it's even lead to The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law being passed which basically requires GMO foods to be properly labeled***.
Let's take a closer look at some of the common modification methods used on popular fruit's and vegetables such as selective breeding, mutagenesis, RNA interference, and transgenics. Some are thought to be more natural than others, but they all produce similar outcomes of altering the plant’s genes to make them bigger so there's more to eat, changing their flavor, adding in vitamins and minerals, and having them live longer and stronger by being resistant to toxic chemicals.
The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law, requires food manufacturers to disclose if their food products are GMO on labels by January 2020 (USDA. (2018##) But only foods that underwent RNA interface or transgenics methods are considered GMO's by this law, so that means selective breeding and mutagenesis aren’t considered a GMO even though they are by definition: GMO is a organism produced through genetic modification. (Argiculural Biotechnology Glossary##)
Essentially people have been creating GMOs since 10,000 BC. (Wieczorek , A., & Wright, M. 2012##) but now that scientists are able to recreate the process in such a short amount of time interested and concerned consumers have voiced their opinions.
Even though a lot of information is unknown about GMOs and how our bodies react with them, what is known is that the more natural methods have been around for a long time, and the newer methods are being regulated and will be labeled. So are all foods GMOs? I think so, what about you?
Written by Sydney Maxfield
San Francisco State University
nutrition and dietetics undergraduate
Agricultural Biotechnology Glossary (n.d) retrieved from
Borrell, J. (2019, March 28). All our food is 'genetically modified' in some way – where do you draw the line? Retrieved November 7, 2019, from https://theconversation.com/all-our-food-is-genetically-modified-in-some-way-where-do-you-draw-the-line-56256.
How your food would look if not genetically modified over millennia? (2018, December 29). Retrieved from https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/06/19/how-your-food-would-look-if-not-genetically-modified-over-millennia/.
Lewis, T. (2018). Here's What Fruits And Vegetables Looked Like Before We Domesticated Them. Retrieved November 7, 2019, from https://www.sciencealert.com/fruits-vegetables-before-domestication-photos-genetically-modified-food-natural.
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Ralston, R. (2016, August 23). Understanding Genetically Modified Foods. Retrieved from https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5058.
Ross, R. (2017). What Is Genetic Modification? Retrieved November 7, 2019, from https://www.livescience.com/64662-genetic-modification.html.
Shamsian, J., & Lee, S. (2017, June 19). Here's what 5 popular fruits and vegetables looked like before people domesticated them. Retrieved from https://www.insider.com/fruit-vegetables-seeds-pits-domestication-2017-1.
USDA. (2018). Establishing the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. Retrieved from https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2018/12/20/establishing-national-bioengineered-food-disclosure-standard.
Wieczorek , A., & Wright, M. (2012). History of Agricultural Biotechnology: How Crop Development has Evolved. Retrieved November 7, 2019, from https://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/history-of-agricultural-biotechnology-how-crop-development-25885295/.
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