GMO Foods (Genetically Modified Organism)
Manufacturers first introduced commercially grown genetically modified foods on the market to consumers in the 1990’s. This is after the FDA declared them as “not inherently dangerous” in 1992.
Note that crops were originally genetically engineered with good intentions. (This includes soy, wheat, corn, and many other grains and non-grains.) The original purpose was to give these produce traits like being pest and virus resistant, herbicides and pesticides tolerant, and for them to exist and thrive in harsh environments.
Scientists/ bio engineers also meant these foods to have longer shelf lives and even to be more nutritionally healthy.
What started as a noble cause, however, resulted in devastating effects on human beings. (Learn more about GMO versus Non-GMO.)
How to Know if Your Food is GMO
We cannot positively know without genetic testing whether something is GMO or non-GMO. And sadly, most of the foods we eat may contain ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms.
In Europe, it is easy to know whether a food is GMO. Their laws require labeling these as such. In the US, it’s a different story. At the time of this writing, 64 countries require labeling of “genetically modified organism” products, but the United States does NOT require it.
Are you eating GMO foods? Here are some tips on how to tell if your food is GMO and how to avoid them…
1. Go for 100 Percent Organic Labeling.
Organic labeling assures that the food does not contain any genetically engineered ingredients if the label states 100 Percent Organic. If the label indicates that the food is just Organic, it may still contain GMO-sourced raw ingredients. In the United States and Canada, food manufacturers may only label something as 100 percent organic if that product has not been genetically modified or been fed genetically modified feed.
It is important that the label indicates that it is indeed 100 percent organic. Otherwise, note that most organic certifications permit organic food to contain up to 30 percent GMOs.
- Important: Trusted Organic Certification institutions include QAI, Oregon Tilth, and CCOF. USDA Organic Certified has a lower standard. Even if the USDA considered a food to be 100 percent organic, it may still contain some GMO!
2. Know the Most Common Genetically Modified Foods.
There are foods that you can be fairly certain are genetically modified. (This is unless they are “100 percent organic” and not from the US.) These foods include: soybeans and corn (including high fructose corn syrup).
Rapeseed/ canola, sugar, and beets are also gmo. Also in this list is cotton, including cottonseed oil, which is usually present in vegetable oil blends and margarine.
Dairy is also a gmo food! (Producers inject cows with hormones and feed them GMO foods). Other GMO foods include sugar, papayas, zucchini, and almost all baked goods.
3. Purchase Products that are Specifically Labeled Non-GM or GMO-Free/
It is a fairly new concept but thanks to organizations, such as The Non-GMO Project, labeling products as Non-GM or GMO-Free is becoming more common. Such labels assure that your food is not GMO.
4. Avoid Processed Foods.
Unprocessed whole foods may still be genetically modified. Processed and packaged foods, on the other hand, are certainly GMO (again, except if 100 percent organic). If you want to avoid GMO, then be sure to avoid processed foods.
5. Buy Grass-Fed Beef.
When selecting beef, be sure that it is 100 percent grass-fed. Much of the cattle in the US feed on grass, however the animals spend their lives in feedlots where they feed on genetically modified corn. (The purpose is to increase intramuscular fat and marbling.)
If you’re looking to stay away from GM0s, make sure the cattle were 100 percent grass-fed or pasture-fed. (You may also look for “grass-finished” or “pasture-finished.”)
- Note: Non-ruminant animals, like pigs and poultry, are not 100 percent grass-fed. Be sure to stick with meat that is 100 percent organic when buying non-beef meats.
- Eggs should have a label of 100 percent organic as well. Eggs labeled “free-range,” “natural,” “cage-free” are not necessarily non-GMO or GMO-free.