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Genetically Modified Organisms (abbreviated as GMOs) are plants and other living organisms derived from modern molecular biotechnology techniques that change the genetics of the organism. For as long as humans have existed, we have indirectly altered traits in animals and plants, but new molecular biotechnology techniques have given us the power to specifically target particular traits for alteration.

The idea behind GMOs is to modify the characteristics of organisms in some way. It usually involves isolating and removing the DNA encoding a specific gene from an organism, modifying its function, and reinserting this modified gene into the same organism or inserting it into another organism’s genetic material. The aim is to introduce a new, improved feature to the target organism.

Genetic modification is simply selective breeding, in which organisms with specific desired traits are used in breeding the next generation, while organisms that do not have the trait are not bred.

For example, biotechnology makes it possible to introduce proteins that are not native to a given species, and this has caused the rapid increase of genetically modified foods. Today, a huge proportion of the food supply in North and South America is produced with biotechnology.

The same principle behind genetically modified foods is the one behind genetically modified organisms. Biotechnology makes it possible to introduce elements that are not native to a particular organism in order to boost the use of that organism, be it a plant or any other living organism.

GMOs and hair care, cosmetics, and personal care products

There are cases where GMOs are developed to assist in the production of hair care, cosmetics, and personal care products. One example of this is the modification of canola so that it can produce high levels of lauric acid, a key ingredient in shampoos, soaps, and detergents, at a reduced cost to consumers.

Is this safe?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said several times that there is no evidence that bioengineered plant food or ingredients are unsafe or not as good as those that are conventionally produced.

Similarly, ingredients gotten from Genetically Modified Organisms that are now found in hair care, personal and cosmetic products are deemed as safe as those that are conventionally produced.

However, organisations such as Greenpeace and The Organic Consumers Association have said that the risks of GMOs have not yet been adequately identified.

There is also an increasing public interest for information regarding the safety of products made with genetically modified organisms, with the concerns generally focusing on how these GMOs may impact the environment or how it affects the consumer.

A specific concern is the possibility of GMOs negatively affecting human health resulting from undesired side effects such as toxicity, gene transfer, or organ damage.

Advantages of GMOs as per personal care products

More value: One reason for GMOs is that organisms altered by the process get added value, especially those that previously lacked the necessary vitamins and minerals or where these minerals were not of adequate quantity. Also, because GMOs are able to resist plant diseases and pests, crop yields are increased, leading to more value in personal care products (in food crops as well).

The price factor: GMOs are known to decrease prices, because advanced products and higher yields mean lower costs. This is a huge benefit that is passed on to end consumers.

Disadvantages of GMOs

GMOs have so many environmentally disastrous disadvantages. The first is that they leave unwanted residual effects in the soil for a long time, and these are believed to have the potential to alter agriculture.

They also pose a threat to insects that are important to the ecosystem, change the field of agriculture in a negative way, produce more weeds, threaten the lives of animals, and threaten crop diversity. We at StyleMeNatural do our best to use natural organic ingredients in our hair products where possible.

What you can do

Cosmetic and hair care ingredients are not usually tested for GMOs because the testing costs are high. Also, because the major reason for using GMOs in the first place is to reduce costs, this is actually counterintuitive.

The use of GMOs in cosmetic products does not have a high risk profile as cosmetics and hair care products are only applied externally. But let's look at this from a different angle. Let's say you use five different hair products, three other products for your skin, and yet another three for your face, and all these cosmetics contain GMOs.

Also when organisms have been genetically modified for the sake of quantity, the fundamental nutrients and benefits are significantly diminished and affect the efficacy of cosmetic actives and the overall performance of hair cosmetic products.

If you, however, want absolutely nothing to do with GMOs, whether in your food or in your hair, you can do your own sleuthing to identify which products probably have GMO ingredients. I have presented below a list of derivatives with a high chance of GMO.

The usual suspects

The list provided below contains derivatives with a high chance of GMO commonly used in food production. They are also often used in hair care, personal and cosmetic ingredients.

Yeast products

Molasses (if derived from sugar beets)

Amino acids

Ethanol (if derived from GMO sugar beets or corn)

Sucrose (if derived from sugar beets)


Corn (except popcorn)


Sugar beets


Papaya – Maltodextrins

If you absolutely want to avoid GMOs, then it would make sense to avoid any hair care product that has the above ingredients, especially in high quantities.


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