GMO's: How to Avoid Them

I’m sure you’ve heard the word ‘GMOs’ lately: It’s everywhere, from the news to magazines, and everyone is trying to avoid them.

What are GMOs and why should we be cautious of them?

A GMO is a genetically modified organism such as a plant, animal, or microorganism that is transformed by genetic engineering. Something that is the result of genetic engineering is called a “product of genetic engineering” or a “derivative of GMOs” depending on the circumstances. It is felt by some that the use of genetically modified crops unnecessarily risks the health of the population and the environment due to insufficient knowledge to safely and predictably modify plant genomes.

Genetic engineering (GE) can be done with plants, animals, or microorganisms. Genetically engineered foods have had foreign genes inserted into their genetic codes. GE practices are sometimes referred to as bio-engineered or biotechnology.

My goal is to provide you with information about GMOs. By law, organic products must be created only with non-GMO ingredients. Buying organic products is a reliable way to ensure you are choosing non-GMO foods. Growing evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmer and consumer rights. Therefore, I avoid GMOs at all costs and have my clients avoid them as well. In the United States, GMOs are in approximately 80% of conventional processed food. Cereals, snack bars, snack packages, cookies, processed lunch meats, and crackers all contain large amounts of high-risk food ingredients. Marketing and beautiful branding in advertisements and on packaged food boxes make these foods appear ‘healthy,’ but inside they are filled with GMOs and unhealthy ingredients, which are making so many of us sick. In our country, our government approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale. This is incredibly sad and disturbing to know that these large corporations are causing illness and disease in our loved ones’ bodies.

Look for the ‘Non-GMO Project Verified’ seal on products, which indicates it has passed a third-party verification program. This means it has been produced according to best practices and procedures to avoid the intentional use of GMO ingredients.

Shopping organic is a great step to ensure your family eats the healthiest food available. The challenge we face today is that although GMOs are excluded from the National Organic Program, organic certification doesn’t require GMO testing. Choosing products that are ‘certified organic’ as well as ‘Non-GMO Project Verified’ is the best way to make sure you are purchasing safe, quality food.

According to the Non-GMO Project, the most common GMOs are soy, cotton, canola, corn, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, alfalfa, zucchini and squash. Many of these items appear as added ingredients in a large amount of the foods we eat each and every day. For instance, your family may not eat tofu or drink soy milk, but soy is most likely present in a large percentage of the foods in your pantry such as tea, condiments, beverages, soups and frozen foods.

GMOs can also be lurking in common ingredients, minerals and vitamins such as: amino acids, aspartame, ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, vitamin C, citric acid, sodium citrate, flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), high fructose corn syrup, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, lactic acid, maltodextrin, molasses, monosodium glutamate, sucrose, textured vegetable protein (TVP), xanthan gum and yeast products.

What can you do to keep yourself and your family safe from GMOs?

  • Buy USDA Organic – they are grown from seeds that are not genetically modified.
  • Purchase brands that are sourced free of GMOs such as Whole Foods Market’s 365 brand and Trader Joe’s labeled products.
  • Eat more whole foods and less packaged foods (which are more likely to contain GMOs).
  • If you purchase corn tortillas, corn oil, corn chips, tofu, edamame, soy milk, baby formula or sweet corn – make sure you choose organic so these items are free of GMOs.
  • When dining out, ask the restaurant what types of oil they use. If it’s soy, corn, cottonseed or canola oil – they are most likely genetically modified.
  • Instead of corn, soy, cottonseed or canola oils, use extra virgin olive oil.
  • High fructose corn syrup and sugar are other sources of GMOs. Cane sugar is not genetically engineered, so if you are consuming sugar, choose cane sugar.

Scary, isn’t it? Your best bet is to keep your eyes peeled for certified organic and this Non-GMO Project seal on all the foods you feed yourself and your family.

Looking for non-GMO choices? Here is a great resource from the Non-GMO Project that helps you find products for you and your family that are Non-GMO.

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