You’d think that in the age of the internet and science, people would not make totally unfounded claims about nutrition. Unfortunately, sites like NaturalNews and others pump out a continual stream of disinformation, completely unsupported by science. Now science is not perfect, but examining the available literature about any topic, and all available published studies, is almost always enough to figure out what is going on. Basically without exception, the real risks are not congruent with the claims of most critics.
1. GMOs are bad for you; they cause cancer
This argument pops up literally everywhere, sometimes even stated from people who should know better. Genetic modification is not inherantly good or bad, a good comparison would be to electricity. In many cases, the targeted mutagenesis of a gene (or the targeted modification) is far more effective and has fewer unseen consequences than normal mutation breeding, which is not forbidden by any nation’s organic food regulators.
While the introduction of protein pathways that help provide the necessary beta-carotene (the precursor to vitamin A) in both golden rice and the new beta-carotene bananas is protested and villanized, organic food producers get to literally irradiate their seeds (causing non-specific and unclear mutations). These types of wild mutations (which do not have to be labeled) led to zucchini with far too much toxic curcubitan in 2003 .
Although genes are sometimes in epistatic relations, changing one gene does not necessarily have an effect on others. Of course, protein-protein interactions and unforseen affinity changes are still risks; these risks exist outside of the world of genetic modification. The targeted adaptation or even insertion is in no way more risky than creating mutation through irradiation: honestly the opposite is far more honest. Although Monsanto and other agrichemical companies routinely use genetic engineering to give their plants resistance to chemical toxins they produce, the problems lay in the poisons they are spraying and not the genetic modification.
2. Microwaves destroy your food and/or give you cancer
Microwaves work by exciting the polarized (charged) molecules in your food. Comparisons of the nutrient and vitamin content of several legumes (primarily peas), which were either cooked in a pressure cooker or in a microwave, showed literally no significant differences, although the pressure-cooked food was slightly more easily digested (Khatoon & Prakash, 2004).
Microwave ovens and their relatively long-wave radiation do not have the power to cause mutations, although they generate heat which can damage DNA. I am honestly astounded at how often I hear people make this statement (probably about as oft as I hear the others, though).
3. Eating X (insert your favorite health food here) will keep you healthy and fight cancer.
The fact is that humans need a little bit (and sometimes more than that) of a lot of things, many of which we call vitamins. Eating too much of any one is inadvisable, as you are likely not giving your body all of the vitamins it needs (in the right quantities).
The same way as you should not take supplements for vitamins you are already getting in your diet, you should not just eat one food as you will very likely exceed you need in some categories without meeting it in others. The healthiest diet is varied and deficient in nothing, without going into extremes. Although certain things are negative to your health and other things more helpful, no single food or fruit or pill is going to give you good health.
4. Organics are better for you and the land
Depending on what nation you live in, organic (or bio) can mean different things. Essentially everywhere it still entails a monoculture model, which goes against the well recognized Elton’s hypothesis and the advice of every ecologist: biodiversity strengthens ecosystems and uses available resources more efficiently. Not to mention that, at least in the U.S., organic does not mean pesticide-free.
The use of strategic polycultures and small farms is very likely the most effective way to end world hunger. It is also most likely to provide healthy food and avoid extreme food shortages (by heavily diversifying crops). Do not confuse ecologically sound farming with organic: they are not equivalent. The organic food industry has spent a lot of money confusing you about what it really is, and about where its seeds (versus GMO seeds) come from.
5. Bigger names and more expensive products are safer or better
There is no direct connection between the nutritional value of a food and its price. In many instances, a shared producer creates similar products for different companies which are sold at drastically different prices. The labelling of “natural” or healthy on food has absolutely no relation to its content or how it was made. You should evaluate the food on a case-by-case basis, primarily based on who produced it (and who owns the company), how, and where they got their ingredients from.
You can also get more healthy food for a lower price by connecting directly with local producers and knowing how your food was made and where it comes from. By cutting out the middle-man and marketing, you get better food for cheaper. Also keep in mind the benefits of growing your own food using techniques like aquaponics or underground greenhouses.