Genetically engineered foods have become an integral part of the American food supply.
Unless we live in Europe or somewhere in Connecticut or Maine—two states here in the US that already require GMO food labeling—it can be hard to know what we are really putting into our precious bodies! While more than 20 other states are set to consider labeling laws in 2014, “Big Food” is trying to push their own bill through.
According to the Environmental Working Group, “the industry has proposed new legislation that would limit your right to know what you’re eating by barring states from requiring labels on food with genetically engineered (GE) ingredients, even allowing companies to label GE foods ‘natural.’”
The Biotech Industry has been experimenting with the genetic structure of our food supply for well over a decade attempting to end world hunger. They have also attempted to improve production by enabling crops to withstand drought, climate changes, and higher amounts of pesticides. In fact, nearly 60% of the research was initially focused on the development of plants that could tolerate larger amounts of pesticides and herbicides, chemicals that carry their own set of dangers and pollutants.
The “science” reads like science fiction.
Cows injected with a genetically altered hormone to increase milk production…Corn, soy, canola oil, cotton, squash, papaya, tomatoes and potatoes spliced with the DNA of plants, animals, bacteria and virus. In fact, you can be assured that the “big three”—corn, soy, and canola—are almost always genetically modified unless they are specifically labeled as non-GMO!
There have been many problems identified with bio-engineered foods. These include the greater probability of allergy to a new species, and the virtual demise of our ancestral seeds. But most of all is the right to make the choice whether or not we want to eat a tomato that has been genetically altered. Unless you are eating a food that is certified 100% organic and/or carries a non-GMO project verified seal of approval, you really can’t be sure.
Here are five simple steps to avoid GMOs:
1. Learn the most common GMO foods to watch for.
- Soy (including packaged and processed foods with soy, even baby formula)
- Corn (including processed corn products like chips and popcorn and high fructose corn syrup)
- Canola (including the standard cooking oil in the US)
- Cotton (cottonseed oil is used in vegetable oil and margarine)
- Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash
- Dairy, Eggs, Meat, etc. (cows injected with rBGH/rBST hormone, also animals fed GM grains and hay)
- Sugar Beets (allowed to be on the market under the name ‘sugar’ – if it says ‘cane sugar’ you are more likely safe)
- Common additives derived from GMO crops can include the following: aspartame, ascorbic acid, citric acid, MSG, maltodextrins, xanthan gum, lactic acid, sucrose
- Other moderate risks include flax, rice, wheat and foods like acorn squash, bok choy, turnips, rutabaga and chard.
2. Buy 100% Organic foods!
The US and Canadian governments do not allow manufacturers to label something 100% organic if it contains GMO ingredients or has been fed genetically modified feed. That’s one reason you’ll notice that the organic produce doesn’t look quite as “perfect” as the conventional produce. Look for organic certifications from QAI, CCOF, Oregon Tilth or QCS. A label that says “USDA Organic Certified” doesn’t mean that a product is guaranteed 100% organic.
3. Pay attention to produce label numbers.
- A 4-digit number means the food is conventionally produced
- A 5-digit number starting with an 8 means it’s genetically modified
- A 5-digit number starting with a 9 means it’s organic
4. Look for products labeled with the Non-GMO Verified seal of approval when it comes to packaged or processed foods (anything in a box or bag, including fast food).
Many sauces and dressings and fast foods contain corn derivatives (modified corn starch), soy derivatives (soy sauce), and canola oil. Check out the Non-GMO Project website (www.nongmoproject.org) for a list of safe food items or download the Non-GMO Shopping Guide app for easy access while shopping. I’ve found many of these products in the health food section of my supermarket including corn tortilla chips, cereals and even fruit snacks for kids.
5. Shop your local farmer’s market.
Most GMO crops are grown on large commercial farms, so it’s a much safer bet to buy locally. And, you can usually speak directly to the farmer about their growing process.
How Safe Are Your Vitamins & Supplements?
While checking for non-GMO foods is a priority, it is just as important to know if the raw materials in your dietary supplements are GMO-free. As a big proponent of daily vitamin and supplement consumption, I take this very seriously.
My distributor, UNI KEY Health has spent the last six months performing a rigorous review of each and every one of its supplements and protein powders. Although it is not yet on the label, I’m proud to say that it’s been confirmed that all UNI KEY and Fat Flush brand products are GMO-free down to the soy lecithin in their Weight Loss Formula.
Interestingly enough, I have found that many protein powders that contain soy, whey or rice are genetically modified. You can be confident that the Fat Flush Whey Protein and Fat Flush Body Protein are completely safe—the whey is from cows NOT injected with hormones or fed GM grains, and the pea and rice proteins used in the Body Protein are never genetically modified.
Keep abreast of all GMO news by keeping an eye on the following websites:
Non-GMO Shopping Guide and App
Environmental Working Group