The safety, or lack there of, of genetically modified organisms is a central issue in the heated debate about transparency in our food supply. And while there are studies that show GMO foods are safe, there are also many that show there are not. The basis of these arguments are rooted in complex chemistry that is not only hard for many adults to understand, but certainly not something you can explain with a crayon and a Venn diagram.
When talking to your kids about the importance of choosing non-GMO foods, it’s better to focus on facts about farmers’ health and safety, farming practices and the long-term ecological effects of conventional GMO farming.
Currently, crops have not been modified for increased nutritional content. So in what way has the food been modified? To become its own insecticide and pesticide or to withstand higher levels of insecticides, pesticides and herbicides. While these modifications have been touted as a way to increase crop yields, so far they’ve only succeeded in creating super weeds and destroying soil with toxic levels of chemical saturation.
Framing this in a way kids can understand is simpler than you think.
First, you want to talk about farmers, explaining they are the people who grow the fruits and vegetables we eat. They are out in the fields every day tending to the crops, making sure they are growing, keeping bugs and other small animals from eating them and eventually harvesting all those fruits and veggies to feed us.
Then, you can move on to a simplistic discussion of the fact that when farmers plant certain types of fruits or veggies, they need to use more and more chemicals to poison the bugs that want to eat the crops and weeds that steal the nutrients in the soil. The farmers are out with those fruits and veggies every day but also with that poison. This is dangerous to their health.
And next, you can explain that if we dump poison into the ground it sinks way underneath, staying there for many years and sometimes making its way into the water we drink. That the more poison there is in the ground, the less food can grow there, because the same way we can’t live if there’s poison in our homes, neither can the plants and trees that grow our food.
Then finish off with the idea when we keep our farmers healthier are and keep the ground safer for growing food, we can ensure there is good, healthy, safe food for everyone in the future.
These concepts can, of course, be tailored with age appropriate information to help your kids understand why choosing non-GMO foods is not only important for our health but for the future of food in our world.