The Truth About Natural, Organic, and GMO Foods
Do you buy natural or organic foods?
Many consumers buy the above products in the interest of health, yet do not read the labels on what exactly is organic or natural in the product. After all, nutrition labels can be misleading.
What is an Organic Food?
Organic foods are foods that use as little synthetic materials as possible when producing that food. Synthetic materials are typically referring to pesticides and chemical fertilizers that could protect the foods from insects, but could be harmful to the consumer at consumption.
Organic foods are priced higher in the marketplace due to the extra time and effort spent to produce these foods without synthetic materials, whereas this production may be done faster on a larger scale using the latest technology and incorporating synthetic materials.
It is important to note that there is not substantial scientific evidence that can prove that foods labeled as “organic” are healthier, safer, or taste better than their non-organic counterparts.
What are Natural Foods?
Natural foods are foods typically labeled to be free of hormones, preservatives, sweeteners, artificial dyes, and antibiotics.
There is some controversy behind products labeled as “natural” because so many foods in the grocery store are processed in some form or fashion. Brands sometimes say that their product is made with natural ingredients, which can be true, even if their product also contains ingredients that are not considered natural.
Consumers often buy a product that has the word natural on it, assuming that this means the product is “all natural” – which means that product is completely free of the hormones, preservatives, sweeteners, artificial dyes, and antibiotics.
The International group known as the Food and Agriculture Organization does not even recognize the word “natural” in its codex, but does have guidelines set for “organic” foods.
What are GMO Foods?
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) are organisms that have been genetically altered with genetic engineering in the field of modern biotechnology.
There is much controversy around using and incorporating GMO crops in farming. This is because some crops may be modified to produce a better tasting or higher yield crop, yet may be lower in nutrition.
Even more dangerous is when crops are genetically engineered to resist certain diseases or pests, and cause the problem to ultimately become worse, like diseases or pests that find a way around the genetic modification. In this scenario, a “superbug” could thrive that is resistant to the genetic changes, and now causes even more crop damage than was taking place before genetic modification.
Several organizations including: GreenPeace, the Non-GMO Project, and the Organic Consumers Association warn that genetically modified food risks have not been properly documented and managed. They propose that genetically modified foods be labeled as such, as they currently aren’t.
Scientists maintain that genetically modified crops are no more dangerous than their unmodified counterparts, mainly because unfavorable findings have not been published.
Is the Seed Trade Association Allowing GM Food Studies to be Published?
In the Publication Scientific American, an article in August 2013 points out that scientists were approved (by seed companies) to publish studies on genetically modified crops, but after unfavorable results in the study occurred, their findings were blocked from being published. As recent at 2009, the American Seed Trade Association agreed to “…allow researchers greater freedom to study the effects of GM food crops,” yet scientists are still concerned about censorship when it comes to publishing the actual findings on genetically modified foods.