For nearly a decade, most Americans have been unknowingly consuming unlabeled genetically modified (GM) foods, according to a survey involving 1,200 Americans. It seems that genetic modification of foods has begun to take precedence, as roughly 75 percent of U.S. processed foods contain some GM ingredients, including foods such as:
- Cooking oils
- Boxed cereals
- Grain products
- Frozen dinners
A grocery manufacturer’s group, Grocery Manufacturers of America, explained that nearly every product with a corn or soy ingredient, as well as some containing canola or cottonseed oil, has a GM component. The numbers speak for themselves: More than 80 percent of soy and 40 percent of corn raised in the United States is a GM variety.
GM Foods: The Frightening Facts
Genetically modifying crops involves transferring genes from a plant or animal into a plant. Often, the “goal” is to eliminate the use of pesticides and make farming more productive and affordable. And while many experts believe GM foods may someday help prevent illnesses such as cancer and osteoporosis, critics claim GM foods could cause health problems (allergic or toxic reactions), as well as damage the environment. Moreover, issues regarding GM foods have already hit the forefront:
One Swiss biotech company mistakenly sold U.S. farmers an unapproved GM corn seed; tons of the experimental corn was sold between 2001-2004
A GM corn, approved only for animal use, got into taco shells and chips and resulted in recalls, lawsuits and public uproar
Another pitfall: There’s no system for tracking or reporting associated health problems caused by GM foods.
Food Policy Institute (Free Full-Text Article)
Newsday March 23, 2005
Unfortunately, the above survey found that many people are still as clueless about them as before, with less than half of the people interviewed unaware that GM foods are sold in grocery stores. If you are like most people and just arent clear about how you can avoid GM foods, please read the article I wrote last on how to identify genetically modified (GM) foods.
GM foods are so prevalent in the United States that if you randomly pick an item off your grocery stores shelves, you have a 75 percent chance of picking a food with GM ingredients. This is because at least seven out of every 10 items have been genetically modified.
Americans are largely kept in the dark about the truth about GM products; and because there are no labeling requirements, most people are not even aware they are putting potentially harmful ingredients into their bodies. My most serious concern is that there aren't any long-term human studies determining what happens after genetically modified foods are consumed.
Move Toward Better Health--Avoid GM Foods
Therefore, since its obvious there's no telling what effects GM foods will have on your body, I believe it would be wise to try and avoid them at all costs.
To guide you in understanding the problems associated with GM foods, I strongly recommend reading the incredible series Seeds of Doubt, written by staffers at the Sacramento Bee. Additionally, the steps below will help you steer clear of GM products for good:
Avoid Processed Foods. As you learned, 75 percent of processed foods contain GM ingredients. There are many reasons why processed foods are not optimal for your health -- for instance they often contain trans fat, acrylamide and little nutritional value--so avoiding them will not only help you to cut back on the amount of GM foods you are consuming, but will also boost your health.
Read produce and food labels. GM soybeans and corn make up the largest portion of genetically modified crops. When looking at a product label, if any ingredients such as corn flour and meal, dextrin, starch, soy sauce, margarine, and tofu (to name a few) are listed, there's a good chance it has come from GM corn or soy, unless it's listed as organic.
Buy organic produce. Buying organic is currently the best way to ensure that your food has not been genetically modified. By definition, food that is certified organic must be free from all GM organisms, produced without artificial pesticides and fertilizers and from an animal reared without the routine use of antibiotics, growth promoters or other drugs.
Look at Produce Stickers. Those little stickers on fruit and vegetables contain different PLU codes depending on whether the fruit was conventionally grown, organically grown or genetically modified. The PLU code for conventionally grown fruit consists of four numbers, organically grown fruit has five numbers prefaced by the number nine, and GM fruit has five numbers prefaced by the number eight.