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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Researcher's Perspective: GMOs may not be as bad as you think

Are genetically modified foods safe to eat?

Some UF professors say genetically modified foods are just as safe — and as nutritious — as their organic counterparts.

Crops are usually genetically modified to increase yield or resist plant diseases, according to the World Health Organization.

"There have been studies where scientists compared the biochemistry of conventional and organic food, and there have been no significant differences in nutritional values," said Thomas Colquhoun, a UF plant biotechnology professor.

The public generally dislikes the idea of genetically modified foods, Colquhoun said.

He attributes this to the idea that using natural products is best.

"The sun is natural, but it still can give you melanoma or kill you in the desert," he said.

The organic-food industry perpetuates the idea that genetically modified foods are unsafe because it gives it more business, Colquhoun said.

Mandi Kastrinos, a communications coordinator for the UF horticultural science department, said she believes genetically modified organisms can be beneficial.

GMOs can yield a larger crop, which will be needed to support a continually growing population.

"By 2050, it is predicted that there will be 9 billion people in the world," Kastrinos said. "In order to meet that demand, we will need to produce 70 percent more food."

People in developing countries may also benefit from GMO technology, Colquhoun said. Food security is low in those areas, meaning there’s not enough food to feed everyone.

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