GMOs or “genetically modified organisms,” are getting a lot of consumer and media attention lately, but why? And what exactly are they?
GMOs are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. These experimental combinations of genes from different species cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.
So basically, they are engineering seeds to resist poisonous pesticides or herbicides. By consuming GMO derived products we are also eating those toxic substances, many of which are carcinogens. Despite biotech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.
The company responsible for this is called Monsanto. They sell their genetically modified seeds to farmers under a contract that prohibits the farmers from saving the next-generation seeds and replanting them.
Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights. In the U.S. GMO label is not required, while in more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. In the U.S., the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale.
Increasingly, people are taking matters into their own hands and choosing to opt out of the GMO experiment. But, how exactly can we avoid GMOs? It is very difficult since 80% of supermarket food is derived from GMO crops but I leave you here with some tips.
Tip #1: Buy Organic
Certified organic products cannot intentionally include any GMO ingredients. Buy products labeled “100% organic,” “organic,” or “made with organic ingredients.” You can be doubly sure if the product also has a Non-GMO Project Verified Seal.
Look for Non-GMO Project Seals
Products that carry the Non-GMO Project Seal are independently verified to be in compliance with North America’s only third party standard for GMO avoidance, including testing of at-risk ingredients. The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization committed to providing consumers with clearly labeled and independently verified non-GMO choices. Look for dairy products labeled "No rBGH or rBST,” or “artificial hormone-free.”
Tip #3: Avoid at-risk ingredients
If it’s not labeled organic or verified non-GMO: Avoid products made with ingredients that might be derived from GMOs. The eight GM food crops are Corn, Soybeans, Canola, Cottonseed, Sugar Beets, Hawaiian Papaya (most) and a small amount of Zucchini and Yellow Squash.
Sugar If a non-organic product made in North American lists “sugar” as an ingredient (and NOT pure cane sugar), then it is almost certainly a combination of sugar from both sugar cane and GM sugar beets.
Dairy Products may be from cows injected with GM bovine growth hormone. Look for labels stating No rBGH, rBST, or artificial hormones.
Now, I know organic products are not always handy in regular supermarkets and are often pricier than GMOs, but here is a list of the most and least contaminated products. Also, remember to always clean your fruits and veggies with apple cider vinegar and water to remove as much pesticide as possible!