A Nutritionist’s Search for the Truth on GMO Farming

By Christine Palumbo, RDN

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Paleo? Whole 30? Goji berries? As a registered dietitian nutritionist, it’s my job to cut past the latest superfood hype, dieting craze and food blog trends to uncover the science about our food. I recently took an in-depth look at GMOs, and want to share what I learned. It’s important for me to review the peer-reviewed research directly and form an educated stance, not only for my clients but for myself and my own family.

My four grandchildren — three of whom are age 4 and one who is age 2 — are the joy of my life. So this search for truth is personal. I have a vested interest in the long term health and well-being of these precious tykes, not to mention my clients.

In my professional life, I get asked about GMOs all the time — especially when I do educational presentations. It’s on the minds of parents and non-parents alike.

This made me want to investigate the facts for myself. I had a solid grasp on GMOs, but never felt like I knew the full story until I started working with A Fresh Look — a coalition of family farmers from across the U.S. that came together to help answer the questions and concerns people are asking about how their food is grown — and took a deeper look at the research.

Moms (and dads) want to do the right thing for their children and make informed decisions about their food choices.

While most RDNs have read the scientific literature and understand that crops grown with GMO Farming are safe and healthy, plenty of our clients still have questions and concerns. And no surprise! With so many sensationalized headlines, questions long settled by the scientific community continue to fuel the public debate.

One piece of advice we RDNs give is to enjoy plenty of fruits and veggies, no matter how they were grown. That’s the most important thing!

Unfortunately, it seems you can’t escape the fear-based marketing manipulation behind a lot of the anti-GMO concerns I hear about.

What I Learned

  • What “GMO” actually means: While there is no universal definition of GMO Farming—there are so many variations that scientists and researchers rarely use the term with each other—here’s a simplified definition: “GMO” stands for an efficient and precise process of cultivating beneficial, naturally occurring traits in the seeds farmers need to grow our food. These seeds allow farmers to produce delicious and nutritious crops with fewer natural resources, less pollution, fewer pesticides—or any number of other benefits—enabling a set of sustainable farming practices known as GMO Farming.
  • Foods grown using GMO Farming methods are just as safe and nutritious as anything else: Thirty years of scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the safety of food produced through GMO Farming methods. Virtually every regulatory, scientific and health organization that’s evaluated GMOs has concluded foods produced with GMO Farming are safe to eat, including the European Commission; World Health Organization; National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine; and the American Medical Association.

  • GMO Farming decreases pesticide use: I’ve always known that all types of farming use pesticides, including organic. But what I didn’t realize is how GMO Farming methods let growers spray less often, and actually use fewer pesticides than other types of farming. Take corn production. According to the USDA, by 2010, only 9 percent of U.S. corn farmers still used insecticides at all—in large part because of increased GMO Farming.1https://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/pub-details/?pubid=45182
  • GMO Farming methods are about sustainability: Sustainable farming methods promote environmental stewardship and enhanced quality of life for farm families and communities. While my primary focus is on nutrition, many of my clients want to know their food is good for the planet too—which they often assume means spending more at the grocery store. But GMO Farming offers a more efficient, economical and safe way to produce food that’s still environmentally friendly. That helps keep food costs down while sparing more natural habitats from being converted into farmland.

After doing a deep dive on the subject, not only do I feel much more confident in reassuring my clients about the safety of crops grown with GMO Farming, I also don’t hesitate in selecting those foods for my family. GMO Farming methods are not only safe, they’re good for the planet.

This post is sponsored by A Fresh Look, a 501(c) (6) organization, whose mission is to provide trustworthy research-based info to consumers about the benefits of GMO Farming methods.

A Fresh Look, Inc. A family farmer-led non-profit