People love to hate on GMOs, those ingredients that can be found everywhere from the cereal aisle to the produce section. But do people actually know what they are opposing? In many cases, a recent Jimmy Kimmel segment suggests, not at all.
A GMO is a genetically modified organism — in most cases a plant whose DNA has been altered to achieve some desired result, like resistance to pests or higher nutrient content. About 80% of the packaged foods currently sold on grocery store shelves contain genetically modified ingredients. In 2012, 93% of all the soybeans and 88% of all the corn planted had been genetically engineered.
In spite of broad scientific consensus that GMOs are safe, their increasing prevalence has sowed fear and distrust among consumers.
Some 90% of Americans want foods with GMO ingredients to carry a special label; Maine, Vermont, and Connecticut passed the legislation earlier this year. Twenty other states have introduced close to 60 bills on the subject, and ballot initiatives are currently active in Colorado and Oregon.
Jimmy Kimmel took to the streets outside a local farmer’s market to find out why so many people want to avoid GMOs. Most are enthusiastic about their GMO-avoiding habits. But they also admit they have no idea what they are.
For the record: Most scientists have concluded that GMOs pose no danger. A recent study in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology found that “GM plants are nutritionally equivalent to their non-GM counterparts and can be safely used in food and feed.”
Scientists have experimented with efforts to use GM crops to help alleviate world hunger (since they often require less water and other resources to thrive and can be boosted with key nutrients), but their efforts have stalled as a result of controversy over concerns about safety. As astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson recently pointed out in a YouTube video, we’ve been genetically modifying food for “tens of thousands of years.” GMO technology might scare people, Tyson suggests, because they “don’t fully understand it.”
Pretty spot on, NDGT.
Some people have non-health reasons for avoiding GMOs, but the people in the Kimmel video all claim some kind of vague health concern, without even knowing what they are eating — or avoiding.
Our favourite response from the Kimmel video: “If you are eating whole foods [pause], you want to know what you’re eating. You know what I mean? [pause] You want to eat what you’re seeing. But when the whole food is contaminated, that’s kind of making it a moot point.”
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.