Shopping to Avoid Genetically Engineered Foods
Almost weekly my inbox has an article about Genetically Engineered (GE) or Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) foods. While the terms are interchangeable, I thought it might be worth the time to provide a little more information and clarification on this hot topic. I’ve also included two links for resource guides that will help you navigate your way through the grocery store if you’re looking to avoid GE foods. First I want to share with you Wikipedia’s definition of GE foods.
“Genetically modified foods (or GM foods) are foods produced from organisms that have had specific changes introduced into their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering. These techniques have allowed for the introduction of new crop traits as well as a far greater control over a food's genetic structure than previously afforded by methods such as selective breeding and mutation breeding.
Commercial sale of genetically modified foods began in 1994. To date most genetic modification of foods have primarily focused on cash crops in high demand by farmers such as soybean, corn, canola, and cotton seed oil. These have been engineered for resistance to pathogens and herbicides and better nutrient profiles. GM livestock have also been experimentally developed, although as of November 2013 none are currently on the market.”
As many of you know there is a great deal of controversy between consumers and big agribusiness on this topic. Personally I stand in the corner of the ring with other consumers that feel we have the right to know if our food has been genetically engineered. I find it rather interesting that more than 60 other nations, including France, Germany, Japan, Australia, Russia, China and the UK require GE labeling, yet the debate continues here in the U.S.
Avoiding GE ingredients isn’t easy and until Congress or state governments enact mandatory labeling of GE ingredients in food, we as shoppers are left to fumble our way through the quagmire. Below is a list of the four most common GE foods:
- Field Corn and corn-derived ingredients. The U.S. is the world’s largest corn producer; 95 million acres worth and approximately 90% of is genetically engineered. Most of it is field corn cultivated for animal feed, (remember – if animals eat it - we ultimately eat it also), but about 12% is processed into foods for human consumption. Less than 1% of the American crop is sweet or table corn. Most sweet corn sold in markets or farm stands is not grown from GE seeds, but a few varieties are, so it’s best to buy organic sweet corn if it’s available.
- Soybeans and soybean-derived ingredients. Soybeans are the second most planted American crop, covering more than 76 million acres. Approximately 93% of soybeans grown in this country have been genetically engineered. Soybean-based products and soybean-derived ingredients are common in products on supermarket shelves. Start playing detective by reading ingredient lists on packages. You’ll quickly see what I mean.
- Sugar. About 55% of the sugar produced in the U.S. comes from sugar beets, 95% of which have been genetically engineered. If a product doesn’t specify that it’s been made with “pure cane” sugar, chances are it contains GE beet sugar.
- Vegetable oils. Because most Corn, Soybeans, Cottonseed and Rapeseed are genetically modified, we as consumers should assume that vegetable oil, canola oil (derived from Rapeseed), cottonseed oil, soybean oil and corn oil are all genetically engineered.
Four ways to avoid GE food:
Option 1: Buy Organic. National and state organic certification rules do not allow GE foods to be labeled “organic”. When you buy organic, you buy food not only free of synthetic pesticides, but also GE ingredients.
Option 2: Buy food certified as “Non-GMO Project Certified.” This non-profit organization operates a detailed, voluntary certification process so that food producers can test and verify that, to the best of their knowledge, they have avoided using GE ingredients in their products.
Option 3: Use the Center For Food Safety Shoppers Guide to Avoiding GE Foods. This guide is one that you can download for free onto your computer or your mobile device. You can find it at: www.centerforfoodsafety.org by clicking on the “Issues” tab.
Option 4: Use the EWG’S 2014 Shopper’s Guide to Avoiding GE Food. Environmental Working Group has many free consumer guides but this is their newest guide and they’re currently on a campaign to raise funds. They’re requesting a $10 donation before they make it available to you. This may change with time. Go to www.ewg.org and click on the “Research” tab to find this guide.
Wherever you are on your cancer journey, I encourage you to nourish your physical, emotional and spiritual body in the purest ways possible. And eating food grown from clean, unadulterated seed that’s been grown in nutrient rich soil without pesticides and herbicides provides the best possible fuel for your body to gain strength and heal.
Blessings ~ Diane