What is GMO food? ‘GMO food’ is food that’s been unnaturally genetically modified to express certain traits that make them more beneficial to us as a species. You might think this sounds scary, but GMO foods are much more common and much safer than you might think.
GMO meaning: What is genetically modified food?
Genetically modified organisms—known largely as GMOs—are simply living things that undergo the process of genetic engineering. Oftentimes, when people think about GMOs, they think about plants and crops, but that’s not all it’s limited to. GMOs can extend to small organisms such as bacteria or fungi, or even animals such as goats and pigs.
Most GMOs these days are indeed food, and a lot of them have been appearing on your supermarket shelves for decades. The first genetically modified foods that were commercially available were FLAVR SAVR tomatoes, made available in 1992. These tomatoes were modified to be sturdier and more resistant to bruising while being transported.
What are the pros and cons of genetically modified foods?
GMO crops yield bigger harvests with more nutritional content while using less water and reducing carbon emissions. GMOs are also cheaper to produce than their natural counterparts. GM foods have been in circulation for more than two decades, and there are thousands of studies affirming their safety for consumption.
Some GMOs have the potential to introduce different toxins or allergens into foods that might have otherwise been allergen-free. GMOs are not naturally occurring organisms, and there’s a small potential for them to permanently affect our environment.
Misconceptions about GMO wheat
There’s a growing movement of people who think that some species of wheat have been genetically modified, with some even blaming GMO wheat for the rise in celiac and gluten sensitivity. Conspiracies aside, the accepted consensus is that GMO wheat is not sold commercially anywhere in the world.