CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - It's a debate you're probably hearing more about lately: are Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) safe to use in growing our food?
Recent research suggests they are while others like environmental groups, say they're not. However, on which side of the debate you fall could make a big difference, especially when it comes to our grocery lists.
When we're checking out at the grocery store, cost is a top consideration. However, shoppers say they're considering something else too.
"I do try to pay attention and get the less processed, less pesticides, anything like that," Jo Reeves said.
"I'm vegan so I shop plant-based and I definitely get organic when possible," Maggie Vogelsang said.
You may have noticed a newer label in the stores, "non-GMO." It's a technology farmers have been using for years.
"GMOs came to the market back in the early 90s." Agriculture Expert Adam Thomas said.
Thomas says it's important to point out that non-GMO is different than organic. Organic basically means growers don't use chemicals, while non-GMO is a separate issue.
"Non-GMO just means it was not a genetically modified seed. But they still use chemicals and fertilizers and things like that on them," Thomas said.
Some people say GMOs are dangerous. Groups like Greenpeace call their release genetic pollution and say GMOs are a "major threat."
But, others disagree.
"We have mounds and mounds of data showing that GMOs are safe for human consumption," Thomas said.
He's talking about studies like one recently cited in Forbes magazine in which researchers concluded GMOs were not toxic.
According to Thomas, having the choice to eat non-GMO is key.
"If you chose to be organic or non-GMO in the food you consume, we will provide that choice, and there are many farmers right here in southeast Missouri that provide that choice," Thomas said.
And, he said, when you talk about eliminating that choice, or outlawing GMOs, that could led to higher prices across the board.
"Those who have the money will be able to eat and those who don't won't, and that's what we are trying to avoid," Thomas said.
Another aspect of this debate is whether or not all foods should be labeled GMO or non-GMO. Some shoppers say they wishes that information was indicated on all food products. Thomas, however, says GMO and non-GMO labels would just be an unnecessary expense that would be passed along to the consumer.