For better or worse, genetically engineered crops (a.k.a. genetically modified organisms, or GMOs) have become a steady part of our food supply. Started around 1996, the country’s yearly practice of planting some 165 million acres of GE crops means it’s tough to avoid them on a wholeThe Atlantic says we might as well be realistic and know what we’ve gotten ourselves into. Here are six myths commonly bandied about as fact:

  • Eating genetically-modified foods is unhealthy: “There is no reliable evidence that ingredients made from current GE crops pose any health risk whatsoever.”
  • The FDA plays a large role in monitoring GE foods:  It’s up to seed developers to share “data showing that the GE crop is ‘substantially equivalent’ to its traditional counterparts and does not pose novel health risks.” In turn, the agency “reviews those data and alerts developers to any concerns, but doesn’t formally approve the seeds or foods made from the crops.”
  • Seed developers receive the bulk of the benefits: American farmers, along with smaller-scale farmers in India and China, have benefited from growing GE crops too. 
  • GE crops are eco-friendly: The reality is that “more than one out of four corn farmers doesn’t follow EPA’s rules” when it comes to ensuring that the corn stays “effective” in producing its own pesticides.
  • More labels means greater sense of choice: As the European Union have revealed, “<andatory labels have not given consumers a choice between cereal boxes with and without GE-ingredients–just non-GE cereal that costs more to produce and is no safer.”
  • GE is best panacea for farm productivity woes and issues of world hunger: “Under proper conditions, GE crops could help farmers in developing countries increase production. However, farmers need suitable GE varieties of the crops they grow; education about their proper use; and credit to purchase fertilizer, pesticides, and other products that maximize productivity.”

[via The Atlantic]