Celebrate Non-GMO month
So what’s the big deal about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)? GMOs are organisms that do not occur in nature and cannot be produced through traditional breeding programs. They are instead created through genetic engineering, the splicing of genes. There are outlandish creations like the EnviroPig, which has been modified to better digest the phosphorous in its feed, or the AquAdvantage ® Salmon that has been engineered to consistently produce growth hormones and reach market weight much faster. However, as disturbing and potentially damaging as these interventions might be, the real shocker would have to be that an estimated 70-80% of the food that we currently consume in North America already contains GMOs we just don’t know it. There is no mandatory labeling of GMOs.
How is this possible?
Consider that well in excess of 80% of all major commodity crops (Corn, Soy, Sugar Beets and Canola) grown in Canada and the United States are GMOs. Those same crops show up in an incredible array of processed foods. Grab a box of something, anything, in your pantry. Scan the ingredient list for common processed food ingredients like, 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, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products. Chances are they come from GMOs.
Why all these GMOs?
75-80% of GMOs have been created to be herbicide resistant, which not coincidentally has also led to a dramatic increase in the application of herbicides. The majority of the remaining GMOs have been created to produce Bt toxin, insecticide within the plant.
What to do?
Choose: Certified Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified and Whole Foods
Certified Organic: Every organic standard in the world prohibits the use of GMOs. Choosing certified organic products ensures that not only are you avoiding GMOs but you are also supporting sustainable production methods, animal welfare standards, preserves biodiversity, protects water quality, improves soil health, and prohibits the use of toxic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers.
Non-GMO Project Verified: The Non-GMO Project was started by retailers as a way to communicate the integrity of the food they were selling in the absence of mandatory labeling. To be Non-GMO Project verified means that the products rigorous best practices, including ongoing testing of every batch of GMO-risk ingredient using a 0.9% action threshold. Consumer demand and right to know actions make a compelling case for manufacturers to source non-GMO ingredients, which encourages farmers to plant them too. We get to know what we’re buying and also know that it is helping to preserve an uncontaminated food supply.
Whole Foods: Cook with organic ingredients and start from scratch. By avoiding processed foods, you can know the whole story behind the food you’re cooking, eating and feeding your family. When purchasing processed foods look for certified organic foods or ingredients and/or the Non-GMO project verified butterfly as a sign of safe eating. If you’re out of options and grabbing something off the shelf at the grocery store, scan the ingredients and look for the GMO Trojan horses so to speak.
For More Information Checkout:
High-Risk Crops (in commercial production; ingredients derived from these must be tested every time prior to use in Non-GMO Project Verified products (as of December 2011):
- Alfalfa (first planting 2011)
- Canola (approx. 90% of U.S. crop)
- Corn (approx. 88% of U.S. crop in 2011)
- Cotton (approx. 90% of U.S. crop in 2011)
- Papaya (most of Hawaiian crop; approximately 988 acres)
- Soy (approx. 94% of U.S. crop in 2011)
- Sugar Beets (approx. 95% of U.S. crop in 2010)
- Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash (approx. 25,000 acres)
Listed in Appendix B of the Non-GMO Project Standard are a number of high-risk inputs, including those derived from GMO microorganisms, the above crops or animals fed these crops or their derivatives.
Monitored Crops (those for which suspected or known incidents of contamination have occurred, and those crops which have genetically modified relatives in commercial production with which cross-pollination is possible; we test regularly to assess risk, and move to “High-Risk” category for ongoing testing if we see contamination):
- Beta vulgaris (e.g., chard, table beets)
- Brassica napa (e.g., rutabaga, Siberian kale)
- Brassica rapa (e.g., bok choy, mizuna, Chinese cabbage, turnip, rapini, tatsoi)
- Cucurbita (acorn squash, delicata squash, patty pan)