Genetically modified foods have been shown to cause harm to humans, animals, and the environment. Despite growing opposition, more and more foods continue to be genetically altered. Here are reasons to avoid GMO foods.
When was the last time you thought about how food was made, where it came from, whether and if it was chemically treated. Perhaps now is a good time to pay attention. Consider these fundamental unanswered questions concerning genetically modified (GM) foods — which are most foods that you eat today. Disturbingly, while we are force-fed “wholesome” messages about the alleged benefits of GM foods, a decade and a half after the first GM crops went commercial many of the same concerns persist.
Read on and find out whether you want frankenfood to be your next meal.
First, a little background: GMO stands for genetically modified organisms; some people also refer to them as GE (genetically engineered). According to the FDA, GMO foods are made using recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (rDNA) technology. The agency commonly refers to them as “bioengineered foods,” or foods that have undergone genetic modification, meaning they’ve been engineered and altered at the genetic level “using any technique, new or traditional.”
Furthermore, from a policy standpoint, since the safety assessment of GMOs at the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) has been based on the idea of “substantial equivalence” such that “if a new food is found to be substantially equivalent in composition and nutritional characteristics to an existing food, it can be regarded as safe as the conventional food,” FDA gives its stamp of approval. Interestingly this substantial equivalence determination is made by the biotech company and not FDA.
Studies about GMOs, most of the outcomes of the studies favored whoever was financing the research, which in most cases was the agrochemical companies. The book called The World According to Monsanto, by Marie-Monique Robin, is an true eye-opener. The Wheel of Life, by Debbie Barker from The Center for Food Safety, is recommended to anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness between food, climate, human rights, and economy.
It’s not easy to avoid GMOs, since more than 80 percent of processed foods contain GMOs. Buying certified-organic food is the only way you can truly stay away from GMOs right now, since GMO foods are not labeled. But, honestly, the likelihood that GMO crops will cross-pollinate with organics gets higher every year as more and more GMOs are planted.
It’s important to note that steering clear from these foods completely may be difficult, and you should merely try finding other sources than your big chain grocer. If produce is certified USDA-organic, its non-GMO (or supposed to be!) Also, seek out local farmers and booths at farmer’s markets where you can be assured the crops aren’t GMO. Even better, start organic gardening and grow yourself.
Top 10 Worst GMO Foods for Your GMO Foods List
1. Corn: This is a no-brainer. If you’ve watched any food documentary, you know corn is highly modified. “As many as half of all U.S. farms growing corn for Monsanto are using genetically modified corn,” and much of it is intended for human consumption. Monsanto’s GMO corn has been tied to numerous health issues, including weight gain and organ disruption.
2. Soy: Found in tofu, vegetarian products, soybean oil, soy flour, and numerous other products, soy is also modified to resist herbicides. As of now, biotech giant Monsanto still has a tight grasp on the soybean market, with approximately 90 percent of soy being genetically engineered to resist Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup. In one single year, 2006, 96.7 million pounds of glyphosate was sprayed on soybeans alone.
3. Sugar: Genetically-modified sugar beets were introduced to the U.S. market in 2009. Like others, they’ve been modified by Monsanto to resist herbicides. Monsanto has even had USDA and court-related issues with the planting of its sugar beets, being ordered to remove seeds from the soil due to illegal approval.
4. Aspartame: Aspartame is a toxic additive used in numerous food products, and should be avoided for numerous reasons, including the fact that it is created with genetically modified bacteria.
5. Papayas: This one may come as a surprise to all of you tropical-fruit lovers. GMO papayas have been grown in Hawaii for consumption since 1999. Though they can’t be sold to countries in the European Union, they are welcome with open arms in the U.S. and Canada.
6. Canola: One of the most chemically altered foods in the U.S. diet, canola oil is obtained from rapeseed through a series of chemical actions.
7. Cotton: Found in cotton oil, cotton originating in India and China in particular has serious risks.
8. Dairy: Your dairy products contain growth hormones, with as many as one-fifth of all dairy cows in America are pumped with these hormones. In fact, Monsanto’s health-hazardous rBGH has been banned in 27 countries, but is still in most US cows. If you must drink milk, buy organic.
9. and 10. Zucchini and Yellow Squash: Closely related, these two squash varieties are modified to resist viruses.
The dangers of some of these foods are well-known. The Bt toxin being used in GMO corn, for example, was recently detected in the blood of pregnant women and their babies. But perhaps more frightening are the risks that are still unknown.
With little regulation and safety tests performed by the companies doing the genetic modifications themselves, we have no way of knowing for certain what risks these lab-created foods pose to us outside of what we already know.
The best advice: steer clear of them altogether.
Those stickers on fruits and veggies tell you quite a bit!
Although they seem like a nuisance, the stickers or labels attached to fruit and some vegetables have more of a function than helping scan the price at the checkout stand. The PLU code, or price lookup number printed on the sticker, also tells you how the fruit was grown. By reading the PLU code, you can tell if the fruit was genetically modified, organically grown or produced with chemical fertilizers, fungicides, or herbicides.
Here are the basics of what you should know:
- If there are only four numbers in the PLU, this means that the produce was grown conventionally or “traditionally” with the use of pesticides. The last four letters of the PLU code are simply what kind of vegetable or fruit. An example is that all bananas are labeled with the code of 4011.
- If there are five numbers in the PLU code, and the number starts with “8″, this tells you that the item is a genetically modified fruit or vegetable. Genetically modified fruits and vegetables trump being organic. So, it is possible to eat organic produce that are grown from genetically modified seeds. A genetically engineered (GE or GMO) banana would be: 84011
- If there are five numbers in the PLU code, and the number starts with “9″, this tells you that the produce was grown organically and is not genetically modified. An organic banana would be: 94011
Incidentally, the adhesive used to attach the stickers is considered food-grade, but the stickers themselves aren’t edible.
And here is the full list from the Environmental Working Groups of fruits and vegetables with the least to most pesticides. When shopping, the most important produce to buy organic are those at the bottom of this list https://www.foodnews.org/fulllist.php
Talk to your friends about GMOs and help them to be aware of the facts. And go to justlabelit.org and help send 1 million signatures to the Food and Drug Administration to let them know that we want GMO foods labeled.
The US falls short in best accepted policies for GMO labeling. 50 countries now label genetically engineered foods including Australia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, the European Union and China.
If Monsanto thought that GMOs were actually healthier, they would be lobbying for GMO labeling, and pushing for scientific research to support those ideas. They are afraid of both labeling and scientific research into healthiness. GMO gives us cheap food.