So what is GMO food? GMOs sound like something related to extraterrestrial life forms, don’t they—not necessarily anything we’d relate to food for ourselves or our pets.
In fact, though, GMOs are ‘genetically modified organisms,' or organisms where the DNA has been altered by scientists.
GMO food touches much of the food production process in the U.S.
Certain crops, such as corn, rice, soy, and tomatoes, have been modified to become pest-resistant, larger, or more nutritious. However, the safety of GMO foods is a hot debate, partly because no human clinical studies were required in order for these crops to hit the market.
Instead, new crops are compared to their non-GM counterparts. GMO foods with similar concentrations of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, amino acids, fiber, vitamins and a variety of other components are said to be “substantially equivalent,” and safe to be sold commercially. However, the long-term efffects of eating GMO food, for people and for pets, is still being studied.
We've gathered a few points to help you decide if GMO food for your pet (or yourself) is right, or if you'd rather leave the GMOs alone.
If my pet’s food has GMO food in it, it will be labeled as such, right?
Actually, that’s wrong. The FDA doesn’t require foods with genetically modified ingredients to be labeled as such, and in fact, even some foods that are labeled as “all natural” may still contain GMO ingredients.
So what should I be looking for if I'm identifying GMO food?
Pet food specifically labeled as ‘organic’ or ‘non-GMO’ will not contain genetically modified organisms. Also, the Institute for Responsible Technology came up with a list of some of the processed foods to be on the lookout for that tend to be made from GMOs. They include things like Aspartame, corn syrup and dextrose, among others. If your pet’s food contains these ingredients, you’ll need to look elsewhere for non-GMO food options.
How can GMO foods affect my pet?
This is still up for debate, and new studies are coming out continually. On one hand, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, among others, has raised a warning, based on some animal studies that GMO food consumption could be linked to health risks like infertility, immune disorders, insulin regulation, and more. On the other, each study should be looked at carefully, as studies can include GMO food that hasn't been approved for the commercial market.
How can I make sure what I’m feeding my pet is safe?
If you have questions about a particular brand of food, don’t be afraid to contact their customer support team and ask questions, and you can always ask you vet.
Image: Evgeny Karandaev / via Shutterstock