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GMO's - Are They Safe to Eat?

You may be asking yourself are GMO's safe to eat? A lot of what you hear through the media is scary. Let's take a few minutes to put it in perspective.

Nashville, Ark. – Seems like everywhere you turn, you hear a conversation about GMOs or Genetically Modified Organisms. You may be asking yourself are they safe? GMO is a process of changing the way a plant or animal expresses genes. A lot of what you hear through the media is scary. Let’s take a few minutes to put it in perspective.

            For years, the agriculture industry has been changing genes from living things using hybridization and selective breeding. If you have eaten a red delicious apple, seedless watermelons or broccoli, you have eaten a food product that has been changed genetically. None of these food items grow in the wild. They are cultivated crops, as are the many of the fruits and vegetables we buy each week. In fact, almost all of our food is created through genetic manipulation. Modern technology allows these changes to be done more precisely.

            So how do GMO’s end up in food? The media tells us that 70% of all foods contain GMO’s. This is because many foods use corn, soybean or canola oil, corn-derived sweeteners or starch, soy proteins, or other compounds produced from these plants – and almost all of the corn and soybeans grown in the US are GMO.

            Should you be concerned? No. Anytime we eat something, whether it is plant or animal, we are eating DNA. Strawberries, carrots and eggs contain DNA and when we eat those foods our digestive system breaks the DNA down into basic components. Fact is our bodies do not absorb DNA. The same is true for GMO DNA. It is broken down along with DNA in the food when we eat it.

            Claims that eating GMO’s will alter our health and/or cause cancer are unscientific and false. Another fear that is sometimes linked to GMO foods is that it may cause an allergic reaction. Rest assured that no allergenic response to a GMO food has ever been documented and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) make sure that no potential allergenic proteins are used in GMOs that could end up in the food system. Keep in mind, the United States is the most regulated country when it comes to the food we eat.

            Another myth is related to the GMO’s in sweeteners and oils. Again there is no reason to worry about GMO in these products. The ingredients in these products are highly purified and contain no DNA or proteins at all.

            Major health organizations have reviewed the safety of GMO foods. They have found no evidence they cause health concerns. GMO foods have been around for over 20 years with no link to any illness or disease. You can be confident that eating foods that have GMO ingredients or have been developed using GMO technology are healthy and safe.

            Foods marketed as non-GMO foods are not any healthier for you. They only cost more! So enjoy those seedless grapes!

            This article was adapted from an article by Dr. Ruth MacDonald, Professor and Chair, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University. Dr. MacDonald wrote a similar article for the Spend Smart, Eat Smart website published by Iowa State University.

            If you would like to learn more about GMO’s go to For more information about food safety concerns, visit the Howard County Extension located on the second floor of the courthouse. Or you may call our office at 870-845-7517.

Recipe of the Week

            Here is a great fall recipe for you to use at your Halloween parties. Deb Kreul, president of the Howard County Extension Homemakers Council, shared this recipe at the recent EHC Fall Council meeting. If you are interested in learning more about EHC, contact the Extension office.

Haunted Graveyard Dip

1 c. chocolate chips

2 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 ½ c. powdered sugar

¼ c. heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla

Pinch salt

9 Oreos, crushed (1 c.)

Black decorating gel icing

3 Milano cookies

Candy corn pumpkins

Gummy worms

Graham crackers or vanilla wafers

            Put chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Melt chocolate on 30 second bursts, stirring in between. Add cream cheese, powdered sugar, heavy cream, vanilla and salt. Beat with electric mixer until fluffy and well mixed. Transfer to serving bowl and top with crushed Oreos. Using black decorating icing, write RIP, BOO, etc. on Milano cookies. Sink them into the dip.

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


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