Genetically Modified Organisms

Since we’ve all been hearing so much about genetically modified foods recently (also called GMOs), I wanted to give you guys some basic information and tips for avoiding foods made with GMOs.

To genetically modify a food means to artificially insert genes into the DNA of food crops or of animals. Genes used to modify these foods come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or humans. GMOs are used in biological and medical research, for the production of pharmaceutical drugs, and in agriculture. Certain crops are modified to become resistant to specific herbicides or to enhance nutritional content of the food. The US company Monsanto owns the largest share of GMO crops.

Many people are concerned about the potential dangers of consuming too many modified foods. Therefore, there has been a recent push amongst certain people to buy only non-GMO foods and avoid any unknown consequences of GMOs. Many worry that GMOs will introduce new allergens into our food, or possibly contribute to the spread of antibiotic resistance that we are seeing so frequently now.

I recently was sent a “Non-GMO Shopping Guide” and I think it provides some really valuable information. There are 3 tips for avoiding GM crops:

  • Buy Organic: Certified organic products are not allowed to contain any GMOs. Anything labeled “100% organic,” “organic,” or “made with organic ingredients” should not contain any GMOs. Foods labeled "made with organic ingredients" are only required to contain 70% organic ingredients, however they are also required to be completely GMO-free.

  • Look for “Non-GMO” Labels: Some food companies may decide to label their products this way. When buying dairy products, look for labels such as “no rBGH or rBST” and “artificial hormone-free”.

  • Avoid At-Risk Ingredients: Try to minimize or avoid any products that are made with crops that are genetically modified. The most frequently genetically modified crops include corn, soybeans, canola and cottonseed. All of these are highly used in processed foods. Remember, there are certain ingredients that may not appear genetically modified, but they can be. For example, sweeteners such as fructose, dextrose and glucose are all made from GM corn.

Tomorrow I’ll go into more detail on which foods are considered “safe” and free from GMOs.

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