As you all know, Halloween is one of my favorite times of year. The favorite time other than Christmas. I – like most other Americans – partake in my fair share of Halloween candy. In all honesty it doesn’t have to be strictly seasonal with me, I’m a chocolate lover every other day of the year. Halloween used to be simple. The only thing that I was concerned about during trick or treating was dividing up the more disgusting part of my loot (mellowcreme pumpkins, swedish fish, hot tamales) and trading it for something better. Because gross Halloween candy does exist. I feel like it’s important to acknowledge this.
The good news is, it’s still relatively simple for me. Because I don’t have actual children, only fur babies. Which means they don’t get Halloween candy. But I can only imagine how hard it can seem as a parent to pick a candy you feel good about to distribute that night to not only your own kiddos, but to the masses of tiny people ornately dressed at your door. I recently stumbled across a Food Babe article discussing GMOs in Halloween Candy and I wanted to take a closer look.
In general, GMO’s tend to get a bad wrap. You could tell me that you have never witnessed or heard about the controversy surrounding them. If this is true I would venture to say you’ve probably been living under a rock.
What is a GMO?
A GMO is a Genetically Modified Organism. But before we discuss this any further it’s important to do a quick recap of a few topics. First of all, what makes your hair brown? Or controls if you have a widow’s peak? These are all characteristics controlled by the interaction of genes.
If you were to break a gene down, it’s important to remember we all have a blueprint. Humans, corn, bacteria, etc. That blueprint is called DNA! Everyone is familiar with what DNA is. Even if it’s just a faint memory of a photo of a double helix in biology class. Along a row down a DNA strand there are a few different bases known as adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine. How each base pair is ordered ultimately affects the kind of protein being produced. Each protein has a particular function. All of this information is going to be housed in an organism’s chromosomes.
For GMO’s this essentially this means that the DNA of an organism has been altered in a specific way through genetic engineering. Usually this means that DNA from another organism has been introduced. This is to give the original organism a new characteristic.
Are there GMOs In My Halloween Candy?
So now that you know what GMOs are, you probably want to know if they are in your Halloween Candy. Chances are that the answer is yes to that question. You’ve probably heard several times that GMOs are in everything. Let me be clear, there are a lot of labels that spout GMO FREE in store on products that they have no place being there. Just like slapping gluten free on a jar of fruit. Because gluten is a wheat product.
There are actually only 9 GMO crops that are available today. These include:
- Sugar Beets
There will be a GM apple available this fall as well.
While there are a wide variety of ingredients in candy depending on company and type, there are a few places that a GMO may be found. If your candy contains corn starch, canola oil, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose or cottonseed oil, even sugar or soy lecithin in some cases it may have a GMO in it. If you are really curious about the sourcing of ingredients you can probably find out at individual company’s websites or by calling customer service. Some of the products sourced may not be GM. A few years ago many candy companies started to shift towards sourcing ingredients that were not GM (for instance soy lecithin for Hershey chocolate bars to cater to consumer demand.
This isn’t the time to freak out though, in fact I’m proud that a lot of the candy I’m about to purchase has genetically modified ingredients. That’s because of the positive impact that they have made in American agriculture.
Why Use GMO’s?
Introducing DNA in this way is arguably more exact than traditional cross breeding methods and the actual mechanics are typically faster than selective or cross breeding (consider the time it takes for an organism to mature each generation). We discussed what a GMO was, but why would someone want to create a GMO? The reason genetically modified organisms exist is to help solve a problem.
Last year genetically modified potatoes were allowed in the market. GM potatoes were created to prevent browning and bruising to help stop unnecessary food waste each year which is a huge problem in the United States.
Corn was genetically modified so that it could fend off specific pests for the duration of the growing season.
Papayas were genetically modified to prevent a common virus from damaging the crop.
All Genetically Modified Organisms were designed with positive intentions. They are not forged in a frightening lab with a mad scientist in tow.
Are GMO’s Safe For Me?
Many people are uncomfortable consuming genetically modified organisms because they are unsure if they are safe. But worry no more, because they are safe. Over 1500 studies have been done that were funded independently. It’s not just one organization either. You can confidently consume GMO’s knowing there is a consensus from several organizations like AMA (American Medial Association), AND (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) , and NAS (The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine).
What About For the Environment?
So if they’re okay for you to consume, your next question is probably are they okay for the environment? The answer is yes, in fact they are even beneficial! They have made it so 700 million pounds less of the active ingredient found in insecticides has been used in the United States alone. We are also able to produce a lot more products without bringing more land under production. Seeing as we lose about 40 acres of farmland an hour in the United States, this is an impressive and necessary feat. They are also certified safe as a food product and for the environment by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).
So I don’t know about you, but I’m proud about the fact that my Halloween candy is made from products that are environmentally friendly and efficiently grown. I enjoy seeing the partially made with genetic modification that many of the labels bear today.
Are the GMO’s in your Halloween Candy?
Thanks for reading!