By Margaret Badore for DietsInReview.com
The FDA says that the health and environmental risks of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are still up for debate, but many people prefer to avoid them whenever possible. Many plants have been genetically engineered to have specific traits, such as frost resistance, a higher yield, or even to produce pesticide. This final trait is perhaps the most upsetting, because this means that the plant essentially produces its own toxins. One study published in Environmental Sciences Europe found that animals fed GM corn and soybeans were significantly more likely to experience organ malfunctions.
In Europe, GMOs either require labeling and in some places are banned, but here in the United States no such label is required. In fact, it’s quite a challenge to find processed foods that don’t contain GMOs. The FDA may even be near to approving the genetically modified salmon, which will be the first GM animal to be marketed for human consumption.
Here are four simple shopping tips to help you avoid GMOs.
1. Buy Organic
Not only are products with a USDA Organic label free from synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge and most pesticides, they also cannot contain GMO ingredients by law.
2. Look for “Non-GMO”
Your safest bet is with products that carry the “Non-GMO Project Verified” logo shown here. In order to receive this seal, foods must be tested the Non-GMO Project, a non-profit organization group dedicated helping consumers find GMO-free foods. However, some companies voluntarily label their products as “Non-GMO,” but consumers should be wary of claims that are unverified by third-party groups.
3. Avoid “At Risk” Ingredients
If you’re looking at a processed food that’s not organic and contains corn, soybeans, canola or cottonseed, the likelihood that it contains GMOs is very high. Most Hawaiian papaya and some zucchini and yellow squash are also genetically modified. Instead of canola oil or a blended oil, buy pure olive oil.
Also, beware of sugar that’s derived from sugar beets. On most non-organic products, “sugar” will be derived from GM sugar beets, unless it is specifically described as pure cane sugar. Lastly, look for dairy products that have no rBGH, rBST or artificial hormones, which means that the cows have not been injected with growth hormone.
4. Use a Shopping Guide