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A scientist holding a magnifying glass over corn spotting GMO - Genetically Modified Organisms

Over the last 20 years, the safety of consuming GMOs has become a hotly debated issue and in the age of the internet, it can be difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction. To give you one less thing to worry about when you’re browsing in the grocery store, we’ve busted 5 common misconceptions about GMOs. 

Myth: GMO’s are used only in industrial, chemical-intensive agriculture

Fact: More than 18 million farmers worldwide choose to use genetically modified seeds due to their advantages. GM crops have been shown to cut down on the cost and environmental impact of agriculture. Over the last 20 years, GM crops have reduced pesticide application by 8.1%.

Myth: GMO’s are not adequately tested

Fact: GMO’s have been studied extensively with both long and short term studies. In May 2016, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine released a report, two years in the making. This report pulled from thousands of documents, included 900 separate research studies, and hundreds of independent researchers. The study concluded that GM foods are just as safe to eat as non-GM foods.

After reviewing almost 20 years of data, such as health trends in various countries that consume GMO and non-GMO crops, the NAS concluded that GMO crops have not caused an increase in cancer, obesity, gastrointestinal illness, autism, kidney disease or allergies. 

Myth: GMO’s are unhealthy

Fact: There is no nutritional difference between GMO’s and non-GMO’s. There are actually cases where GMO’s contain more nutrients than their non-GMO counterparts. This is called bio-fortification, which is the practice of increasing the content of an essential macronutrient, ie. vitamins, minerals, in food. 

Myth: GMO’s are unnatural

Fact: Humans have been using traditional modification methods for thousands of years. Many of the foods we know and love today would not exist without years of experimentation and cross-breeding in agriculture. As far back as 8,000 BC, farmers began observing new and rare gene variations. When they noticed a property that was advantageous, they bred it into standard variations. Wild potatoes, for example, contain high levels of alkaloid toxins. Central Andean populations began selectively breeding potatoes to reduce their toxicity. 

Myth: Organics are safer than GMO’s

Fact: While it is true that organically grown foods have fewer synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and are free of hormones and antibiotics, most independent studies indicate that the levels of pesticide residue on conventionally grown foods are well within safety limits. Whether you choose to buy organic or GM foods, it is always recommended that you wash your produce. For more information on how to properly wash your produce, this guide from Healthline has everything you need.