As genetically-modified (GM) ingredients become more common in the global food supply, particularly in the U.S., we know that consumers may have questions about this technology.
On safety – our number one priority – we find broad global consensus among food and safety regulatory bodies that approved GM ingredients are safe.
Those who have approved biotech crops to be as safe and acceptable as their conventional counterparts include:
The National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association, and the British Royal Society also say there is no health risk associated with GM foods or ingredients.
Global Experts project that to meet the growing needs of an increasingly hungry world we will need at least:
50 percent more food.
45 percent more energy.
30 percent more water.
This technology is not new
Biotech seeds have been approved by global food safety agencies and widely used by farmers in food crops for more than 20 years. Because U.S. farmers use GM seed to grow certain crops, 70 percent of foods on U.S. grocery store shelves likely contain GMO ingredients. As a result, if an American food or beverage product lists corn, soy, canola, cottonseed or beet sugar as an ingredient – and it's not organic - it likely contains GMOs.
Global food safety experts will note there has not been a single incident of harm to health or safety demonstrably linked to the use of GMOs anywhere in the world.
GM crops generally need less insecticide, may allow for the use of less harmful herbicides, and enable sustainable farming practices like no-till farming which can:
- Require less energy use by farmers.
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).
- Improve water quality.
- Improve nitrogen retention.
- Improve water filtration and reduce soil erosion.
Because GM crops can protect against weeds or disease, farmers planting GM crops tend to generate more stable – and sometimes higher yields.
This could be important to global food security.
One in eight people in the world today – or 870 million people worldwide – do not have enough to eat. And by 2040, the world's population is projected to increase by 2 billion to nearly 9 billion people. Global Experts project that to meet the growing needs of an increasingly hungry world we will need at least:
- 50 percent more food.
- 45 percent more energy.
- 30 percent more water.
It's a daunting challenge. But biotechnology shows promise to address such issues as strengthening crops against drought and extreme temperature, and delivering more nutritious food, even in poor soil conditions.
We agree with the World Health Organization (WHO) that “the development of GM organisms (GMOs) offers the potential for increased agricultural productivity or improved nutritional value that can contribute directly to enhancing human health and development.”
We offer options
We know that some consumers remain uncomfortable with GMOs and are concerned that GM crops may encourage farming practices that over rely on one herbicide and decrease biodiversity. Others worry about the economic impacts on farmers trying to keep non-GM separated from GM crops. As a global food company, we produce products without GM ingredients in some markets – we also offer organic and non-GMO alternatives in most of our major categories in the U.S.
In the spirit of transparency, we’ve enrolled several products – especially our organic products – in the U.S. Non-GMO Project.
Because foods containing GM ingredients are safe and deemed essentially identical to their conventional counterparts, there is no requirement for special labeling in the U.S. by the FDA.
In July 2016, President Obama signed into law a set of new, national standards for disclosure of information for bioengineered food. The law requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop standards for mandatory disclosure of GMOs in covered food using one of three formats: text, a symbol, or electronic or digital link, like the SmartLabel QR code. USDA has two years to develop the language and specifics for these options.
We're pleased that we finally have a national standard for GMO disclosure in the U.S., and we look forward to reviewing the USDA guidance as it develops. We will review USDA’s guidance, talk with our consumers on their preferences, and develop our long-term plans.
Ensuring safe and effective food production, while conserving precious natural resources, is a longstanding commitment for General Mills. We believe biotechnology can help.
This technology is not new. Biotech seeds have been approved by global food safety agencies and widely used by farmers in food crops for more than 20 years.