What is a GMO?
A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Because this involves the transfer of genes, GMOs are also known as “transgenic” organisms.
How to Rid your Home of GMOs
This process may be called either Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetic Modification (GM); they are one and the same
What foods are GM?
Currently commercialized GM crops in the U.S. include soy (94%), cotton (90%), canola (90%), sugar beets (95%), corn (88%), Hawaiian papaya (more than 50%), zucchini and yellow squash (over 24,000 acres).
Products derived from the above, including oils from all four, soy protein, soy lecithin, cornstarch, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup among others. There are also many “invisible ingredients,” derived from GM crops that are not obviously from corn or soy.
Why should you Care?
Genetically modified foods have been linked to toxic and allergic reactions, sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ studied in lab animals. The effects on humans of consuming these new combinations of proteins produced in GMOs are unknown and have not been studied.
Recent health studies provide growing evidence of harm from GMOs:
GM Corn Damages Liver and Kidneys
Meat Raised on GM Feed is Different
Roundup Could Cause Birth Defects
Genetically Modified Soy Linked to Sterility
So, what can you do? Good question. The first step is to remove GMOs from your home. According to The Non-GMO Project you can start with the following:
10 steps to rid your home of GMOs
1) Kick-out the high GMO risk breakfast cereal
If your breakfast cereal contains corn, soy, or canola (as most do), it likely contains GMOs. Make sure that your cereal is Non-GMO Project Verified. The Non-GMO Project has a fantastic selection of verified breakfast foods.
2) Use canola oil wisely
Approximately 90% of the canola in the United States is GMO, so if you choose to use canola oil make sure you buy a Non-GMO Project Verified product. If you can’t find a verified canola oil in your local store, you can also switch high-risk canola for a low-risk alternative like olive oil (for low temperature cooking) and unrefined coconut oil (for high temperature cooking).
3) Remember that “natural” doesn’t always mean what you think it does
“Natural” products are just as likely to be GMO as conventional products. Even natural products purchased at the health food store may contain GMOs. Need help finding verified products when you are shopping? Download the Non-GMO Project iPhone app from the Apple store.
4) Pack a non-GMO lunchbox
Keep your family eating non-GMO when they are at school and work, by packing a non-GMO lunch. Many lunch items like granola bars, lunchmeats, and snack packs contain ingredients that are most likely GMO. Corn, soy, and canola are everywhere! Luckily, there are many great Non-GMO Project Verified lunch foods. Trying changing one lunch item at a time to help your family transition to food that is non-GMO.
5) Give your soy products an overhaul
Soy is present in a huge amount of processed foods, from the obvious soy foods like soy milk, tofu, and soy sauce, to almost all packaged snack bars, meats, breads, etc. Soy is everywhere! Since over 94% of soy in the United States is GMO, it’s important to make sure your soy products are Non-GMO Project Verified whenever possible.
6) Be skeptical of corn products
Our family loves Mexican food, however with 88% of U.S. corn now being genetically engineered, we had to look for non-GMO alternatives to our favorite products. Thankfully, there are many delicious verified chip and tortilla brands. Like soy, corn shows up where you least expect it. Be a label sleuth!
7) Look for hidden GMO ingredients
GMOs may be hidden in common processed food ingredients such as: 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.
8) Satisfy your sweet tooth with non-GMO treats
In our culture, it is not uncommon to celebrate or show our appreciation with treats. Unfortunately, many candies and other packaged sweets are full of beet sugar, soy, and corn-all very high GMO risk ingredients. Make sure you are treating your family with non-GMO goodies!
9) Be proactive
If there is a product listed on our website that is not carried at your local grocery store, ask your local retailer to see if they can stock it. Most retailers are happy to try and fulfill customer requests. If there is a brand that you would like to see become Non-GMO Project Verified, make a product verification request via Non-GMO Project.
10) Become a GMO risk reduction ninja!
First, learn what crops are GMO-thankfully, the list is short. Second, make a list of the foods your family eats the most often. Next, find a Non-GMO Project Verified alternative. If you can’t find a verified alternative, look for a certified organic option. If all else fails, looks for a low risk alternative to a high GMO risk product.
According to Healy Real Food Vegetarian The Big 7 to be concerned about are:
1. Vitamins –
What to avoid on ingredients labels: Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin B12 (cobalamin, cyanocobalamin), vitamin E (tocopherols).
2. Non-Organic Dairy and Meat–
What to avoid: Any non-organic dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese, butter, etc.), non-organic eggs or non-organic meat products.
4. Artificial Sweeteners-
What to avoid on ingredients labels: Aspartame, dextrose, maltitol, maltose, nutrasweet, equal, sorbitol.
5. Corn Additives –
What to avoid on ingredients labels: Always Corn Derived- Vegetable oil, distilled white vinegar, modified corn starch, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, corn oil, high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated corn oil, corn starch. Sometimes Corn Derived- ascorbic acid, caramel color, lecithin, xanthan gum, lactic acid, dextrose, xylitol, citric acid.
6. Soy Additives –
What to avoid on ingredients labels: Vegetable oil, textured vegetable protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, glycine, monosodium glutamate (MSG), natural flavors, tocopherols, Anything with “soy” in it- Soy lecithin, soybean oil, soy flour, soy isolates, soy milk, soy sauce etc
7. Industrial Processed Oils – . What to avoid on ingredients labels: Canola oil (rapeseed oil), vegetable oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil.
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