Oct 31, 2012
A new Californian law may require manufacturers in the United States to label genetically modified foods but even if California passes this law now and other states follow suit, it could be a long time before labeling is the norm. As many as 70 to 80 percent of the packaged foods in the supermarket contain GM ingredients and even some non-packaged food could be dangerous. The best way for consumers to protect themselves from genetically modified organisms, GMOs, is to learn which products and types of foods most likely contain them, plus how to identify safe foods.
GM corn is in everything
Corn is one of the biggest GM food products that threatens consumers. A study published in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal found that rats fed GM corn developed large tumors. Corn-based ingredients are prevalent in processed foods. Even items like vinegar may be distilled from GM corn.
GM corn is a main ingredient in animal feeds given to animals on factory farms. People who eat animal products from factory farms are consuming what the animals ate.
How to avoid GM corn? Avoid processed and packaged foods, conventional meat and dairy, and obvious corn product. Around 12,000 products in the typical U.S. supermarket contain corn. The best way to protect yourself is to buy organic foods labeled as non-GMO. Ironically, organic corn on the cob might be safe while the white vinegar and cookies in the next isle are not.
The other three main offenders
Besides corn, the three main ingredients to watch out for are soy, canola and cotton. The USDA reports that 73 percent of corn crops in the U.S. are genetically modified, as are 75 percent of canola crops, 87 percent of cotton, and 91 percent of soy. Consumers can easily avoid canola oil and make sure their tofu or soy products are labeled non-GMO, but many foods have hidden ingredients. For example, the artificial sweetener aspartame used in diet drinks and some foods as a sugar alternative is made through a fermentation process that includes corn and soy.
Cotton may not be an ingredient to worry about when grocery shopping, but it is still found in most homes in clothes, sheets and towels. Some snacks like potato chips may also be fried in cottonseed oil. Cottonseed oil is common in margarine and vegetable oils. Whether people wear it or eat it, GM cotton is a problem.
Most dairy products and meats come from animals fed GM corn, soy and canola. Consumers can look for organic labels or those that state that the product is rBST-free. Cows in factory farms are injected with a GM hormone called rBST. This gets into milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, butter, and all other dairy products.
Many cereals and condiments contain GM ingredients. Organic cereals and condiments are the only ones likely to be safe.
Olive oil is usually not genetically modified, but other oils will contain soy, corn or canola. Most packaged snacks, cookies, crackers and chips are genetically modified.
Bread is also problematic because most contain soy and corn ingredients. Generally, pasta, rice and beans are not genetically modified but packaged dishes could have GM ingredients.
Fresh produce used to be safe, but foods like sweet corn are already GM. Organic produce is safer. Manufacturers are not allowed to label products as “100% organic” if they contain GM ingredients, but they can be labeled “natural,” “cage-free,” or state that they contain organic ingredients and still be GM.
Staying away from all non-organic and packaged foods is the best way to keep GMOs out of the body.
This article was posted: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at 5:29 am