What does GMO-free mean?

Most corn grown in the United States has been genetically modified.

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food are of concern to consumers who are concerned about the impact these organisms may have on their health. As a result, many companies in the late 1990s began applying the “GMO-free” label, indicating that their food does not contain genetically modified organisms. Several countries legislate labeling and, in Europe, foods must be labeled to indicate whether or not they contain GMOs. In the United States, however, labeling is purely voluntary and is not regulated by any government agency or organization.

The US does not require the labeling of genetically modified (GMO) foods.

As it is unregulated, there have been some doubts about the validity of the GMO-free label in the US. Various organizations have lobbied the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to enact legislation governing food labeling with respect to these ingredients. Many food activists want a standardized label so that concerned consumers can be confident about the content of the products they buy.

The use of GMO food crops is a controversial issue.

Most US consumers have food containing GMOs in their homes. Most corn and soybeans grown in the United States have been modified, as have many other crops. Some research indicates that many processed foods contain these ingredients, so for consumers who are concerned about this issue, labeling would be helpful.

For consumers who want to eat natural and organic foods, knowing that the products they buy are GMO-free is often very important. Although there is no federal labeling program in the United States, some organic farmers and natural food producers have chosen to start their own certification programs. Obtaining certification through such programs can be very difficult, but many producers believe that consumers will be willing to pay extra for verification.

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GMO-free means that a particular cultivated plant has not been genetically modified.

The harmful nature of GMOs has been questioned, especially by commercial agricultural producers and seed suppliers. No scientific evidence has been found to suggest that genetic modification of crops is harmful to humans. However, some consumers find it important to be able to make informed choices about what to eat and wish to be able to choose foods that do not have genetically modified ingredients if they so choose.

Many conventional crops in the United States are subject to some form of genetic modification.

Some studies suggest that genetic modification can be harmful to agriculture, with cloned species harming overall biological diversity and modified genes finding their way into wild plants and unmodified crops. This is especially true of corn, where contamination became a major problem in the 1990s. Other research, however, indicates that genetically modified crops can be beneficial to the environment. Plants designed to be resistant to herbicides and pesticides, for example, have reduced the amount of these chemicals used by farmers on GM and unmodified crops.

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