A GMO, or genetically modified organism, is a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified using recombinant DNA methods (also called gene splicing), gene modification or transgenic technology. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe and have significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. The U.S. and Canadian governments, though, have approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale.
Sixty-four countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, require genetically modified foods to be labelled 1. While a 2015 ABC News survey found that 93% of Americans believe genetically modified foods should be labelled, GMOs are not required to be labelled in the U.S. and Canada 2. In the absence of mandatory labeling, the Non-GMO Project was created to give consumers the informed choice they deserve.
Most packaged foods contain ingredients derived from corn, soy, canola, and sugar beet — and the vast majority of those crops grown in North America are genetically modified 3. To see a list of high-risk crops, visit the What is GMO page.
Because GMOs are novel life forms, biotechnology companies have been able to obtain patents with which to restrict their use. As a result, the companies that make GMOs now have the power to sue farmers whose fields are contaminated with GMOs, even when it is the result of inevitable drift from neighboring fields 4. GMOs therefore pose a serious threat to farmer sovereignty and to the national food security of any country where they are grown, including the United States and Canada.
More than 80% of all GMOs grown worldwide are engineered for herbicide tolerance 5. As a result, use of toxic herbicides like Roundup has increased 16 times since GMOs were introduced 6. GM crops are also responsible for the emergence of herbicide resistant “super weeds” and “super bugs,” which can only be killed with more toxic poisons like 2,4-D (a major ingredient in Agent Orange) 7,8. GMOs are a direct extension of chemical agriculture and are developed and sold by the world’s biggest chemical companies. The long-term impacts of GMOs are unknown, and once released into the environment, these novel organisms cannot be recalled.