Health-conscious parents are very selective about the things they give their children. They understand the weight of their responsibility to keep their child healthy and thriving.
If you’re reading the label on a bottle of vitamins and see a disclosure that the product contains GMOs or bioengineered ingredients, you’ll likely think twice about purchasing them.
Here’s what you need to know about GMOs and bioengineered ingredients in food and wellness products, as well as what new labeling guidelines mean for your ability to make informed choices at the grocery store.
What Are GMOs?
GMO stands for the genetically modified organism. GMOs are a controversial topic. They’re often fundamentally misunderstood, and many people don’t have accurate knowledge of how they’re produced.
Scientists find plants that are sturdy and will survive in a myriad of conditions and fortify new plants with their genetics. Corn is the most common example of a genetically modified organism, although soybeans, potatoes, cotton, canola, papaya, and sugar beets are almost always genetically modified unless specifically stated otherwise.
Farmers want to increase their yields and boost the chances of their crops’ survival. Some corn seems to thrive better in droughts or be less reactive to herbicides used to manage weeds that naturally pop up in fields. Scientists look at the genetics of the corn that fares better than other types of corn, and they isolate the genes responsible for making the corn so resilient.
They introduce those genes to the seeds of similar corn. The corn that grows from those seeds has a higher chance of exhibiting the same characteristics, which leads to less food waste. More crops will grow to full maturity, and farmers sometimes use fewer resources to keep their crops alive.
Are GMOs Safe?
GMO food is perfectly safe to eat as long as it’s been properly washed and prepared. Your body can’t tell the difference between the genes of corn that was genetically modified and corn that wasn’t. Nothing about the resulting food product that’s dangerous to your body.
In fact, GMO crops like golden rice have saved lives. Golden rice is rice genetically modified to contain higher amounts of vitamin A, and it has been used to prevent the dangerous effects of vitamin A deficiency plaguing children in developing countries.
When something is safe to eat and has the potential to save lives, how could it possibly become so controversial? GMOs are very misunderstood. Many people avoid them for the wrong reasons. The issue at hand isn’t what GMO foods can do to our body but what their most common growing practices can do to the environment.
Most GMO crops are designed to resist chemicals like glyphosate, a controversial herbicide, and pesticide with damaging effects to the environment. Not all GMO crops are exposed to glyphosate, but there’s no way for the average consumer to tell the crops that have apart from crops that haven’t.
Glyphosate worked while GMO crops were still relatively new to mass agriculture, but the weeds that grow in fields of GMO crops have rapidly evolved to withstand its effects. This led to an exponential increase in the amount of glyphosate farmers use to keep weeds out of their fields.
Glyphosate is the real enemy. The use of glyphosate to rid South America of illicit crops has had an extremely detrimental effect on the Amazon rainforest. Millions of pounds of excess glyphosate has damaged the soil and seeped into the water supply, effectively poisoning the land that indigenous tribes heavily rely on.
The same thing is happening in the United States. Every time a farmer introduces glyphosate into the environment, they’re potentially polluting wildlife habitats and resources humans need to survive.
It’s not the GMO food itself that’s a problem to human health, but the circumstances often used to produce that food. If a GMO crop was grown with excessive amounts of glyphosate, it’s possible that glyphosate residue may remain on the exterior of the plant. Washing your produce is extremely important, as there is no known safe threshold for the ingestion of glyphosate.
Should I Avoid GMOs?
Many people choose to avoid GMOs because they fear they may be contributing to this environmental pollution. Since glyphosate is still legal to use (despite loud opposition from human rights organizations and environmental watchdog groups), people have no way of knowing if the GMO produce they purchased is contributing to the glyphosate problem.
It can be difficult to completely avoid GMOs until the impending laws about GMO labeling catch up with manufacturing. Organic farmers are legally not allowed to produce GMO crops, so the only way to know that the product you’re buying doesn’t contain GMOs is to buy organic foods and wellness products exclusively.
Organic farmers can and do use pesticides, but the pesticides they use are different. Many organic farmers use derivatives of the neem plant or chrysanthemum plant for their natural pesticide abilities, and since these compounds readily occur in nature, they’re not known to be damaging to the environment.
Why Are There GMOs in My Child’s Vitamins?
If there are GMOs in your child’s vitamins, that means that ingredients in the vitamin were derived from genetically modified plants. Plants can be genetically modified to enhance their vitamin production (like in the case of golden rice), or filler ingredients in the vitamin came from GMO plants.
The term “bioengineered” is a less intimidating synonym for GMO. The terminology makes it sound like something different, but it’s just the same thing wrapped in packaging that hasn’t yet developed a negative connotation.
Labeling Requirements for GMOs
Historically, companies were never required to disclose the use of GMO ingredients in products. The label stating that a product contains “bioengineered ingredients” is only starting to appear in preparation for new labeling standards.
The Bioengineered Food Disclosure Law technically took effect in 2020, but companies weren’t technically mandated to comply until 2022.
This gave companies time to change their ingredients and sourcing to eliminate GMOs from their supply chains before having to admit to using GMOs to create their products.
Many companies understand that the public opinion of GMOs isn’t favorable and decided to use those two years to create functional workarounds. They will never need to print disclosure on new labels because the law no longer applies to their products.
The year 2022 is going to define public opinion about GMOs. Companies that couldn’t change their practices will now have to state their use of bioengineered ingredients on their packaging for products manufactured after January first.
The court of public opinion will ultimately decide whether or not GMOs have a place in vitamins, wellness products, and foods. People may choose to purchase alternatives when they see the labels, and companies will need to decide if they’re willing to take the hit of losing customers.
The companies most likely to receive a hit from the law are budget-friendly companies and smaller businesses that don’t have the resources to use more expensive non-GMO ingredients. They may raise their prices to compensate for the new ingredients.
Most people would gladly pay a little extra for a product they feel better about using.
How To Find Non GMO Multivitamin Supplements for Kids
Until 2022, it will be difficult to tell which vitamins do and do not contain GMOs unless the packaging specifically states. If the vitamins don’t state that they’re non-GMO, it’s best to assume they aren’t.
Hiya’s children’s chewable non-GMO multivitamins are sugar-free and naturally flavored. We use a blend of organic fruits and vegetables to give your chewable multivitamins a natural color and flavor your kids will enjoy.
We’re also an eco-friendly company that makes our products in the United States. Your first order comes with a sturdy reusable case for your child’s vitamins. We’ll send refills in minimal packaging every month according to a pediatrician’s recommended schedule. Sustainability means a lot to us, and we know it means a lot to families looking to manage their environmental impact.
We know your children’s health is the most essential thing in the world to you and that every household has different needs. We aimed to design a multivitamin that would fit the bill for every child. Hiya is vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free.
Children with special dietary needs can safely use Hiya.