(ARA) – If you’ve ever eaten canned soup, sipped soda or chewed sugarless gum, chances are you’ve eaten something that’s been genetically modified, also called GMO. Even when you cook at home, GMOs are in the ingredients we use. It’s hard to believe, but GMOs are in almost everything we eat – according to the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association, 80 percent of our processed food is genetically modified, unless it is certified organic.
Just what does this mean? Genetically modified organisms or GMOs are organisms that have been created through the gene-splicing techniques of biotechnology. This relatively new science allows DNA from one species to be snipped and inserted into another species in a laboratory to create specific characteristics and new species that do not occur in nature. You may have heard them referred to as “frankenfoods” for this reason. For instance, a plant can be engineered to become resistant to a pesticide, or even contain its own pesticides within the plant cells, so that the fields can be sprayed with the chemical and the crops will not die along with weeds.
So, what does this mean to you and your family? The truth is, we really don’t know yet. The science has not been around long enough for studies to show the long-term health effects that consuming GMO foods might have.
“From a nutrition perspective it’s not hard to connect the dots from GMO crops to health issues. We have exponential increases in digestive issues, allergies and autoimmune diseases today and GMO crops are found in so many of the foods and food products (soy, corn) implicated in these health issues,” says registered dietician Ashley Koff. “This is enough for at least 30 other countries to enforce significant restrictions or outright bans on GMOs because they are not considered proven safe. What we do know is that anyone eating GMOs is, in effect, a guinea pig in a very large health experiment.”
More and more, people are demanding transparency about what is in the foods they eat. One problem is that the FDA does not require that companies disclose if they contain GMOs, so it can be hard to tell which products have them and which do not.
What can you do if you want to avoid GMOs or at least know which foods they are in?
1. Learn more about GMOs at www.nongmoproject.org.
2. Look for products that have the Non-GMO Project Verified Seal. This seal means that a product has been produced according to rigorous best practices for GMO avoidance and evaluated against strict standards. Companies like Nature’s Path, an early supporter and board member of the Non-GMO Project, have products independently tested for GMOs in order to be able to bear the seal – in fact, they are the brand with the most Non-GMO Project verified products.
3. Read labels. The most common GMO ingredients are non-organic soy, canola, corn and now beet sugar, including all of their derivatives like corn oil, corn syrup, soy protein, soy sauce and canola oil. Avoid products that contain these ingredients unless they are certified organic, as it is highly probable they are GMO.
4. Use the Non-GMO shopping guide to make your grocery shopping lists. You can find the guide at www.nongmoshoppingguide.com, and you can download it to take with you to the market.
5. Go organic. U.S. government law does not allow genetic engineering to be used in organic production or processing.
If you are concerned about what is in the food that you feed to your family, now is the time to learn more about GMOs and look for products that do not contain them. With a little time and effort, you can feel peace of mind that you are making the best choices for your family.