A group of three mothers who are also scientists have started actively avoiding products in grocery stores that claim to be GMO free. The reason why these scientists are avoiding non GMO products is interesting and very insightful. They claim that non GMO products lead consumers to believe certain things about a product that aren’t necessarily true. For example, many people associate non GMO products with a healthy life style and sustainability. People are drawn to these products that claim to be GMO free, despite the fact that the label does not provide any information about its nutritional value or environmental impacts.
In fact, genetically modifying food has proven to be useful to us in many ways and is a very effective tool in terms of food production. The article argues that the financial, environmental, and health impacts that come from adopting non GMO food include changes in food formulation, reduced nutritional quality, higher prices, increased pesticide use, and reduced food availability.
When looking at nutritional value there are many cases where foods that are fortified by GMO’s actually have higher nutritional values compared to foods that don’t. A good example to look at is the product Grape Nuts. When Grape Nuts decided to remove GMO’s from their recipe the amount of vitamin A went from 15% down to 0% and riboflavin went from 25% down to 4%.
In terms of financial costs, a study that was performed at North Carolina State University shows that,”GMO-free food costs an average of 33% more than a comparable food item that is not GMO-free. When compared on a per-ounce basis, GMO-free foods cost an average of 73% more.” When you go a step further and calculate how much this would increase a family’s food budget on an annual basis the numbers come in at $9,462 to $12,181 per year.
There is also data out there that suggests non GMO crops are harsher on the environment and require more herbicides to maintain. According to sugar beet farmer Andrew Beyer, “thinks GMO sugar beets are better for the environment, the world, and the consumer. He truly believes it, as do most sugar-beet farmers in the US. And the data suggests they’re right.”
Ultimately, it is interesting to see how people are more inclined to purchase non GMO products based off the assumptions that they are healthier and better for the environment when there is actually quite a bit of data that show non GMO can be more expensive, not as healthy and have harsher impacts on the environment.