Last week, the GMO Answers team attended the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo, the world’s largest meeting of food and nutrition experts. At the conference, we were able to answer questions about GMOs, about the GMO Answers program, and had wonderful conversations with hundreds of registered dietitians, dietetic students, and those in the health, nutrition and food community. The response to the GMO Answers booth was overwhelmingly positive. So many dietitians came up to us to thank us for being there, and to tell us how much they appreciated the materials we had available.
If there was one questions that people had for us, it would be this: “Why are people so afraid of GMOs?”
It’s a tough question, because there’s a lot of misinformation and misconceptions out there, and it’s hard to pinpoint one specific reason for this confusion. But one thing is for sure, getting accurate, evidence-based, science-based information into the hands of professionals like those attending FNCE is one way to fight the fearmongering.
In a new Medium blog post for GMO Answers, food science expert and nutritionist Ruth MacDonald sets the record straight with some facts on the health and safety of GMOs. Whether it’s how they’re made, what their benefits are, or what labels at the grocery store mean, she explains it all. She notes:
Americans are increasingly interested in where their food comes from and how it was grown. Some people may prefer foods that are not made using GMO tools, and having non-GMO labels allows them to make their own decisions about what foods they buy. But a different reason may be that marketers are benefiting from consumer fear of the unknown. Consumers may be willing to pay more for a food labeled non-GMO because they think that food is safer or healthier.
Some organizations have begun to call the use of non-GMO labeling misleading and unethical. Of concern to me as a nutritionist, is that consumers with lower incomes or those on fixed budgets may believe they have to buy the higher-priced non-GMO foods and limit their intake of healthy foods.
We believe in consumer choice, and people should be able to choose to eat whatever they want. But people should make those decisions armed with actual facts, and not be swayed by misinformation, scare tactics, and lack of choice.