I read several particularly disturbing articles this morning about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and Genetically Modified/Enginered Foods (GM Foods). I may be way behind here but a lot of this was news to me. I’m not totally in the dark, I have heard of GMOs and GM foods and what I have heard has led me to believe they are bad and should be avoided. This is where it gets disturbing, I THOUGHT I was avoiding them.
You may already know that GM foods are not labeled and there isn’t any requirement that they must be labeled. This makes it tricky to figure out what foods have been genetically modified or contain GMOs and that makes it almost impossible to avoid them.
The articles I read this morning were The One and Only Way You Can Tell if a Food is GMO-Free and Everything you HAVE TO KNOW about Dangerous Genetically Modified Foods. If you have time I would encourage you to read the full articles. For those of you short on time, I will try to do my best to hit the high notes in this blog post.
According to the first article, the only way to currently know you are not eating GM foods and ingredients is to eat only foods with the USDA 100% Organic Label.
This is the part of the article that got my attention, there was a 2011 report called Cereal Crimes by the Cornucopia Institute that listed some familiar “natural products” that contained “100 percent genetically modified grains”. The list included:
- Nutritious Living®
- General Mills Kix®
It went on to “out” two breakfast cereals that are part of the Non-GMO Project as being made of more than 50% GM Corn. You’ll be sad to know that one of those cereals is Whole Foods’ 365® Corn Flakes. The other is Barbara’s Bakery’s Puffins. I expect better from Whole Foods and I’m really sad to see Kashi on the above list. Their commercials are so earthy and “natural”. I feel duped.
As a country, the United States needs to require mandatory labeling of GM Foods. Vermont is trying to pass a bill called “VT Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act”. If it passes it will take effect in 2014. This bill would require food in Vermont to be “labeled as genetically engineered if it is entirely or partially produced with genetically engineered ingredients.” Love that! On the flip side, there are 14 state’s that have passed legislation that protects the use of GM seeds. One such bill that Michigan is trying to pass (Senate Bill 777)
“would prevent anti-GMO laws, and would remove any authority local governments may have to adopt and enforce ordinances that prohibit or regulate the labeling, sale, storage, transportation, distribution, use, or planting of agricultural, vegetable, flower or forest tree seeds.”
Yipes! We need labeling, without it we can’t be properly informed. If we aren’t properly informed we can’t make good choices regarding our health. It is estimated that 75% of foods in our grocery stores contain GM ingredients. There is no labeling so you can’t identify these products. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that most of these products are processed, refined foods that you buy in the center aisles of the grocery store. If you are buying whole foods around the perimeter of the store you are surely cutting back on the amount of GM products in your grocery cart. I said cutting back, not completely eliminating.
The second article I read listed some varieties of Zucchini, Crookneck Squash and Papayas from Hawaii as GMO products. Look for the USDA 100% organic label on you produce!
Other ways to recognize if what you’re buying contains GMOs is to look for maltodextrin, soy lecithin and high fructose corn syrup in the list of ingredients. I knew soy lecithin was bad! Watch out because it’s in most chocolate. Also look for these things:
- Milk containing rbGH
- Rennet (containing genetically modified enzymes) used to make hard cheeses
- Aspartame (NutraSweet) – yet another reason to give up sugar-free gum, sad.
The second article gave some great information about produce stickers and what the numbers mean. Very cool, I had no idea.
- PLU code for Conventionally Grown Fruit consists of four numbers
- PLU code for Organically Grown Fruit has five numbers starting with a 9
- PLU code for GM Fruit has five numbers that start with the number 8
Things to remember:
- Just because a label says “natural” does not mean it doesn’t contain GM ingredients
- By Organic Produce when possible
- Certified Organic means the food item must be free from all GM Organisms
- Stay away from Processed Foods because most contain corn and soy
- Look for products that feature the Non-GMO Project Verified Seal
- Europeans eliminated GMOs from their food supply 10 years ago – we can do this too!
You may be wondering why you should avoid Genetically Modified Organisms and Foods. The second article goes into detail about the dangers of GMOs. Here are some highlights:
GMOs can be linked to:
- Infant Mortality
- Immune dysfunction
- Stunted Growth
- Accelerated Aging
- Morgellons Disease
I had never heard of Morgellons Disease. It’s nasty. If you want to learn more, follow the link but be warned it’s pretty gross.
So, what’s the simple take away from this whole post –
Buy whole, certified organic foods
“By definition, foods that are certified organic must never intentionally use genetically engineered organisms, must be produced without artificial pesticides and fertilizers and come from an animal reared without the routine use of antibiotics, growth promoters or other drugs. Additionally, grass-fed beef will not have been fed genetically engineered corn feed, although now that genetically engineered alfalfa is approved, grass-fed will not always mean the animals have not consumed genetically engineered feeds.” (source)
If you are interested in supporting the mandatory labeling of GMOs you can donate at the Organic Cousmers Fund. If you would like more information you can find that at the Institute for Responsible Technology.
Sorry for such a bummer of a post. I really like to focus on the positive but this really caught my attention and I thought it was important to pass along. To end on a high note, here is a great Non-GMO Shopping Guide that both articles encouraged everyone to pass around and share. It’s a PDF so you can download and print it. Enjoy.
Eat Well, Feel Good, Have Fun!
Amy White MS HNC
I am a holistic nutrition counselor and believe real food is the true path to wellness. If you are interested in learning more about me and how I can help you, please see my story.
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