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Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are plants or animals that have had their genetic material (DNA) altered using biotechnology. Foods with GMOs are developed because there is some perceived advantage to either the producer or the consumer of that food, such as insect resistance, longer shelf life or increased nutritional value. To date, as much as 80% of foods on US grocery store shelves contain genetically engineered ingredients – the most common GMO crops being corn, soy, cotton and canola. Since there is currently no mandatory labeling law requiring GMOs to be listed on the package, you could be eating foods with biotechnology-derived ingredients and not even know it.
The US government's position is that GMOs are safe, but there are restrictions or bans on GMOs in more than 60 countries worldwide. The primary concern to human health is that genetically modified foods introduce allergens and toxins, and there is also a possible link between GMO foods and gluten-related disorders. The safety of GMO foods is still subject to further studies, so until more of the long-term health effects are known, it’s best to stick to organic, whole foods.
CE tip: Look for Non-GMO Project–verified products whenever possible.
Registered dietitians Tiffani Bachus and Erin Macdonald are the co-founders and creators of URockGirl.com, a website dedicated to promoting wellness and a healthy, balanced lifestyle.