GMO ingredients in dog food - Some common myths
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GMO ingredients in dog food - Some common myths

Dogs
Health & Safety

The debate over GMO (genetically modified organism) food for people is something that is sure to polarise opinions widely, and many people view GMO foods with great suspicion, avoiding consuming them and making a conscious decision as a consumer to refuse to buy foods with GMO ingredients. Foods that contain GMO’s are not as common within the UK as they are in other countries, largely due to the suspicion that GMO’s generate in many consumers, but nevertheless, GMO’s can be found in a whole range of things that we consume every day, particularly products that are grown or produced abroad and imported to the UK for sale.

GMO’s can also be found in dog food too, particularly again in products manufactured abroad, or that source some of their ingredients from outside of the UK. This is particularly true for the grains that often function as a filler within dog foods, and a significant amount of dog foods on the market will contain one or more GMO ingredients in some shape or form.

So, are GMO ingredients in dog foods a problem, and are they best avoided? Not necessarily! While the ultimate decision on what to feed to your dog lies with you, it is important to get a basic understanding of the important factors that help to make up your decision on what to buy, and learning a little about GMO foods will help you to do this.

In this article, we will look at the use of GMO ingredients in dog foods, and bust some common myths about their usage.

What exactly are GMO’s?

A GMO is a naturally occurring organism (such as a plant or animal) that has had its DNA profile modified artificially (in such a way that would not happen on its own in nature) by means of the introduction of genes from a different organism.

GMO engineering can be used for a whole range of things, such as increasing the resistance of a crop to parasites that might destroy it, or to improve the yield or nutritional content of food crops.

Five often-quoted myths about GMO’s in dog food

There is a lot of information and scaremongering around about GMO food and ingredients, and understandably, altering the DNA profile of something artificially is not a procedure that should be taken lightly, nor done without good reason. For a GMO food or ingredient to be viable, the benefits associated with it must outweigh any potential downsides, and all GMO products that reach the market will not have got there without a significant amount of research and review.

It is of course perfectly fine and understandable that many people object to GMO foods on principle, but also important that everyone understands the reality of GMO foods and can make an informed decision on their own viewpoint and choices when it comes to GMO’s. Here are five of the most often-quoted myths and misconceptions surrounding GMO ingredients in dog food.

1. GMO engineering is a new science that has yet to be proven as safe or studied for negatives

Scientists first began working on genetically engineering food crops in the early 1990’s, and so GMO ingredients and the science of its study have been around for over twenty years. Certain GMO foods have actually been available and on the market since this time too, and so GMO engineering is not the very recent and largely unknown science that many people assume it is.

2. You cannot be sure what you are getting with GMO foods

The safety, development and sale of GMO foods is one of the most closely regulated industries in the world, and all products that reach the market have taken many years to develop, be studied, tested and peer-reviewed before sale. A person or company cannot simply decide one day that they want to alter the DNA of a given product, and then serve it up to an unsuspecting public!

3. GMO ingredients are not safe

All GMO plants and ingredients must meet the same safety, nutritional and sustainability standards as non-GMO foods, and in fact, GMO products are much more highly regulated and subjected to much more stringent examination than unaltered products are.

In order for a GMO food to reach the market, it must be legally approved after potentially many years of working for approval, and will remain under study and in the spotlight for many years after this too.

4. GMO ingredients provide bulk but less nutrition

One of the main intentions of growing GMO food is to increase the yield of a crop, by altering it to produce larger or more prolific desirable parts than would otherwise be achieved. However, growing for bulk and volume alone is not desirable in and of itself, and for a GMO food to be viable, it must be as nutritious and fit for purpose as alternative products, and in some cases, may be even more so.

5. GMO foods can cause allergies

Because the development of GMO food involves introducing DNA from one product into another one, this can theoretically run the risk of transferring allergenic compounds from the additional product into the new organism. This is obviously of concern for people whose dogs suffer from allergies; as an example, you might fairly assume that someone with a peanut allergy would need to avoid another crop whose GMO profile included DNA from some part of the peanut plant.

However, GMO scientists and producers are hyperaware of this concern and its downsides, and work hard to ensure that no potentially allergenic traits are transferred from one organism to another. GMO foods have been proven to show no greater incidence rate of allergic reactions than alternative products from non-altered plants, and GMO products that may contain potential allergens will be highlighted in bold on the packaging.

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