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How GMOs Are Made continued...

Genetic modification has made plants with extra vitamins, minerals, and other benefits. Swiss researchers created a strain of “golden” rice with a lot of beta-carotene. This antioxidant is good for the eyes and skin. And those bruise-free potatoes are supposed to cut down on cancer-causing chemicals created when potatoes are fried.

What's another benefit of using science to build better plants, according to people who are pro-GMO? You can combine plants that could never mate in the wild. An example of this is “Roundup Ready” corn. It can survive being sprayed by the weed killer. It is made of DNA from a few different types of plants.

Because of this, farmers can treat their entire field instead of just targeting weeds. Weeds die, but the corn is OK.

Are GMO Foods Safe?

Industry and health leaders cite hundreds of studies to support the safety of GMOs. That includes 20 years of studies in animals that have eaten modified food.

But experts like Krimsky say nearly two dozen studies show bad effects, like harm to the kidneys, liver, heart, and other organs. He says they should carry more weight as people judge the pros and cons.

People who are against GMOs do not like that Roundup Ready corn is sprayed with toxic chemicals. Even though the corn can survive, they worry about how it might affect people or animals that eat it.

An agency of the World Health Organization has classified the main chemical used in Roundup as a “probable carcinogen.” That means they think it probably increases the risk of cancer.

Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, disagrees and stands by the safety of its corn and GMO foods. The company is responsible for a lot of the world’s genetically modified crops.

“They’re the most thoroughly tested food on the market,” says Dan Goldstein, MD, senior science fellow at Monsanto.

How Can I Tell If My Food Has Been Genetically Modified?

China, Australia, and the European Union require GMO foods to be labeled. The U.S. does not.

If you choose organic foods, you may be able to avoid GMOs. You can also look for foods that are labeled as non-GMO. The makers of these foods volunteer to tag them, but that isn’t regulated by the government, so they may or may not be right.

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