Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are plants, animals, or microorganisms whose genetic makeup is artificially modified or altered. Individual genes can be introduced from one organism to another across species. GMOs have several purposes including resistance to certain environmental conditions, pests, and diseases or resistance to chemicals such as herbicides. Some crops are genetically modified to increase their value. Despite biotech industry promises, no evidence shows any GMOs currently on the market showing increased yield, enhanced nutrition, drought tolerance, or any other consumer benefit. The safety of GMOs is generally unknown. There is a lack of credible independent long-term feeding studies. An increasing number of people around the world are choosing to eat organic and non-GMO products.
Only 64 countries around the world require genetically modified foods to be labeled. These countries include all of the European Union (EU) members, Australia, and Japan, among others. GMOs are not currently labeled in the United States or Canada; however, some products will start to be labeled in the United States thanks to the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS). The vast majority of crops in North America are genetically modified. Most commonly, packaged foods made from sugar, corn, soy, and canola are genetically modified. Livestock, agriculture, and aquaculture products are also considered to be high-risk for GMOs. Because over 80% of GMO crops grown around the world have been engineered for herbicide tolerance, resulting in a significant increase in the use of toxic herbicides, increasing its negative impact on the environment and human health. Several countries around the world have banned the use of GMOs.
In the European Union the following countries have banned GMOS: France, Germany, Austria, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Poland, Denmark, Malta, Slovenia, Italy, and Croatia. In Africa, Algeria and Madagascar have banned GMOs, and in Asia, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, Bhutan, and Saudi Arabia. Finally, in the Americas, Belize, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela have all banned GMOs. The United States has no official legislation banning GMOs.