A quick online search of ‘what is a GMO’ (Genetically Modified Organism) and it’s obvious why many consumers are uncertain about genetic engineering and food.
While there is lots of information available, there is also an abundance of misinformation that can make it difficult for consumers to distinguish between falsehoods and facts when it comes to GMOs.
We’ve prepared some agvocacy messaging to help you respond to some common misconceptions about GMOs.
Impact on human health
Myth: GMOs contribute to the cause of certain life-threatening illnesses and food allergies.
Fact: More than 1,700 studies prove that GMOs are safe to eat, and there is no scientific evidence that they are harmful to human health.
Truth: Canadian farmers are committed to producing high-quality foods that consumers can purchase with confidence knowing they are safe to eat. The consensus from scientific and health authorities around the world is that GMO foods are just as safe to eat as non-GMO foods.. In fact, no effects on human health have ever been attributed to the consumption of GMOs.
Myth: GMOs are not thoroughly tested before being commercially available.
Fact: GMOs must undergo extensive testing before being approved for sale. As Health Canada states, “foods from genetically modified plants are subject to a far higher level of regulatory oversight and of scientific requirements than traditionally bred plants.”
Truth: Canada’s food system has strict standards for safety and quality. GMOs are certainly no exception to these standards and undergo more rigorous safety assessments than non-GMO varieties. It typically takes seven to 10 years of research, development, and testing before a GMO can be approved for sale in Canada. The science-based evaluation process ensures that approved GMOs are safe for humans, animals, and the environment.
Myth: GMOs are nutritionally inferior to their non-GMO counterparts.
Fact: GMO foods are nutritionally the same as non-GMO foods. Several studies that have found there to be no nutritional difference between GMO and non-GMO foods.
Truth: GMO foods are just as nutritious as non-GMO products. The only time the nutritional value of a GMO will be different from its non-GMO counterpart is if its nutritional content has been intentionally enhanced – such as healthier oil profiles in canola and soybeans. One of the benefits of genetic engineering is that it can help make healthy foods even better by developing crops with more essential nutrients. In countries with food accessibility challenges, this innovation has the potential to save lives through improved nutrition.
Myth: GMOs are detrimental to farmland and surrounding environments.
Fact: GMOs have proven environmental benefits. In fact, many people would be surprised to learn GMOs can help producers reduce their environmental footprint.
Truth: Canadian farmers take great pride in being environmental stewards. GMOs play an important role in supporting sustainable agriculture, allowing farmers to produce more crops on existing farmland and reducing the industry’s impact on natural habitats. By enabling more farmers to adopt conservation tillage, GMO crops help preserve soil quality, conserve water, and decrease agriculture-related greenhouse gas emissions by 29 million tonnes each year.
The Real Dirt on Farming (page 37)