Every trip to the grocery store presents you with a multitude of options. It can sometimes feel overwhelming to find the food that is best for you and your family. Below are answers to some questions you might have had while browsing the aisles of your favorite grocer.

Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) Crops

Are foods made from GMOs safe to eat? 
Since 1996 when farmers first started growing crops from biotech seeds, there has not been a single documented instance of human harm. GMO crops are digested the same as non-GMO crops. And there is no scientific data to support claims that foods made from GMO crops cause new allergies, gluten intolerance, cancers, infertility, ADHD or any other condition. Plus, plants grown from GMOs are the only type that governments around the world highly regulate and extensively test.

How are GMOs regulated?
Biotech plants are regulated by three federal regulatory agencies: the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Each agency regulates different types of biotech products. Depending on the product, biotech seeds may be subject to just one or all three regulatory bodies.

The USDA is responsible for regulating any plants that could be a risk to other plants, including those that are products of biotechnology. Once a biotech crop or plant is introduced, it is regulated by USDA, which monitors its import, handling, interstate movement and release into the environment.

The EPA regulates all crop protection products in order to protect the environment and public health. The FDA regulates all food and animal feed, including those with biotech ingredients. All biotech food and feed products are rigorously tested to meet safety standards before entering the marketplace. The FDA also provides a voluntary consultation process to food manufacturers to ensure they are on track to follow regulatory standards throughout the production process.

All of this research, monitoring and regulation mean that biotech crops are safe. These federal agencies would not allow a crop into the marketplace unless it was secure. With more than 20 years of regulation and monitoring, you can rest assured that biotech crops are a safe option for farmers to grow, and biotech foods are a safe option for you to choose.

What’s the advantage of GMOs instead of crossbreeding?
Originally, scientists would create new plants with the traits they wanted by crossbreeding plants with slightly different characteristics, hoping to create new variety with the desired trait. Crossbreeding shuffles a plant’s genes, but it’s an unpredictable process. With GMOs, scientists can decide exactly which traits they want in the new variety and then insert those traits into the plants, creating a new variety. GMOs accomplish the same thing as crossbreeding, only they are more predictable and precise.

Pesticides and Herbicides

Why do farmers spray for weeds and bugs?
A: Farmers use a number of management practices to control weeds, pests and disease in their fields, including the use of pesticides. Bugs, crop diseases and weeds are realities of life. Whether organic or conventional, farmers face these challenges every day. If tools like insecticides and herbicides were not available, entire crops could be wiped out. Farmers do not use crop protection products unless the potential benefits – such as improved quality, increased production, aid in harvesting and prevention of crop loss – outweigh the costs of application.

Organic farmers don’t use pesticides or fungicides, right?
Organic farmers have the opportunity to use pesticides and fungicides on their crops, just like conventional farmers. Organic farmers choose from organic certified herbicides, fungicides and pesticides, which are outlined by the USDA Certified Organic program.

Organic Foods, Antibiotics and Hormones

Isn’t organic food healthier for me?
Not necessarily. A comprehensive review of some 400 scientific papers on the health impacts of organically grown foods, published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, concluded organic and conventional food remain equally healthy.

How safe is my food to consume –whether organically or conventionally grown?
All foods – whether organic or nonorganic – must meet certain health and safety regulations before being sold to consumers. Several U.S. government agencies, including the FDA and EPA, monitor the food production chain through regulations and inspections from farm to fork to ensure that all food is safe.

Are there antibiotics in my milk?
No. All milk is checked for antibiotics at the processing plant. If any are found, the whole load is dumped and the milk never reaches your refrigerator.

Are there hormones in my chicken, eggs and pork?
No matter how they raise their chickens or pigs, farmers are not allowed to give them hormones. So, all products from those animals are hormone-free (other than their natural hormones).

Interested in how Indiana farmers raise their food? Read more about how Indiana farmers keep the food they produce safe.