Genetic engineering (GE),or genetic modification (GM) food involves the laboratory process of artificially inserting genes into the DNA of food crops or animals. The result is called a genetically engineered or genetically modified organism (GMO). Many opponents of GE crops refer to them as Frankenstein foods, of Frankenfoods.
Genetically modified foods can be engineered with genes from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals, or even humans. Most Americans say they would not eat GE food if labeled, but —unlike, more than over sixty other nations around the world, the U.S.A, does not require labeling of GE foods. For the non-GMO consuming population, it can be difficult and a daunting task to stay up-to-date on food ingredients that are claimed to be at-risk of being genetically modified. Especially due to the, ever-growing list of at-risk agricultural ingredients is frequently changing in America.
Although Americans pride themselves on having choices and making informed decisions, under current FDA regulations—consumers in the U.S.A don’t have much of a choice when it comes to GE ingredients listings. In over fifteen European Union nations, including —Australia, China, Russia, New Zealand, and many other countries, genetically engineered foods are required to be labeled. Labeling in American is not happening and busy-aware consumers are turing to organizations such as, The GMO Project— for safe food information.
ORIGIN: 1990’s- from Franken(stein) + food.
10 Things You Can Do if You’re Concerned About the Lack of Labeling on Genetically Engineered Foods.
- Log on to your computer, write a letter to the FDA and your Congress person and tell that your want mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food.
- When buying produce, look at the PLU number (price look up). If it’s five (5) numbers that will be a the sticker of foods in question. If the number begins with the number eight (8), then you will know it is genetically engineered. If it starts with a nine (9), it is organic. Thankfully, the USDA certified organic is as per the organic standards, which prohibits the use of genetically engineering.
- Commit to a 100 mile diet. Source locally sourced fresh foods from your farmers market. Talk to the farmer. Most cities have farmers markets a few times a week in different locations. While some produce is genetically engineered, most GEs will be found in highly processed foods containing soy and corn.
- Eat more fresh vegetables and unprocessed foods. Your body will thank you and you will avoid genetically engineered foods.
- Look for the USDA Organic seal and buy organic – Our National Organic. Standards prohibit the use of genetic engineering. Don’t be fooled by products that are named, Organic, not labeled, organic. Some GE companies will try to fool unsuspecting shoppers. And remember— anything labeled, “Natural” by law, can contain less than USDA standards, and only 70% organic.When you purchase products labeled “100% organic,” “organic,” or “made with organic ingredients,” all ingredients in these products are not allowed to be produced from GE crops.
- Avoid high-risk products that are most likely genetically engineered unless they are USDA certified organic or verified by the Non- GMO Watch Dog Group — Non-GMO Project Verified. Crops like Corn, Soy, Canola, Cotton, Sugar made from Beets. Sugar from cane is not genetically modified.
- Download the True Food Shopper’s Guide from the Center for Food Safety for a list of brands with products that claim to be made without genetic engineering it is also available via mobile app for your smart phone so you can shop safely.
- Look for products that identify themselves as Non-GMO, like Non-GMO Project Verified, North America’s first third-party lists compliancy’s Check the Product Verification Program. Many companies are now taking it upon themselves to label they are not growing or processing food crops.
- Stay current on common GE crops. By keeping a close eye on the Non- GMO Projects website, the GE situation is closely monitored and can change often as a PRO-GMNO strategy. Stay informed on all commercial production as well as the ingredients derived from high risk GE crops.
- Avoid foods and ingredients derived from the list below of December 2011, current high-risk crops.
Look for “Non-GMO” labels. Some companies may voluntarily label products as “Non-GMO.” Some labels state “Non-GMO” while others spell out “Made Without Genetically Modified Ingredients.” Some products limit their claim to only one particular, at risk ingredients such as soy lecithin, listing it as “Non-GMO.”
According to the Non-GMO Project, agricultural products are segmented into two groups: (1) those that are high-risk of being GMO because they are currently in commercial production, and (2) those that have a monitored risk because suspected or known incidents of contamination have occurred—or, the crops have genetically modified relatives in commercial production with which cross-pollination (and consequently contamination) is possible.
Common Ingredients Derived from GMO Risk Crops
Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Ethanol, 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.
Here is a list of High-Risk Crops listed by the Non-GMO Project. In 2016, these crops are listed as in current commercial production, as well as the ingredients that are derived from these crops. Below is a list verified 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)
These crops are suspected or have been found in known incidents of contamination . These crops have a genetically modified relative in commercial production with which cross-pollination is possible. The GMO Project test these crops as needed to assess risk and move them to the “high-risk” category if they see significant risk of GMO 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)
Tomatoes: In 1994, genetically modified Flavr Savr tomatoes became the first commercially produced GMOs. They were brought out of production just a few years later, in 1997, due to problems with flavor and ability to hold up in shipping. There are no genetically engineered tomatoes in commercial production, and tomatoes are considered “low-risk” by the Non-GMO Project Standard.
Potatoes: The Simplot White Russet™ potato recently acquired USDA and FDA approval and went into commercial production. In August 2015, the Non-GMO Project added the potato to our Monitored Crop list. As a genetically modified organism, the Simplot potato is not allowed in any form in a Non-GMO Project Verified product. Genetically modified NewLeaf potatoes were introduced by Monsanto in 1996. Due to consumer rejection by several fast-food chains and chip makers, the product was never successful and was discontinued in the spring of 2001.
Pigs- Livestock: A genetically engineered variety of pig, called, Enviropig was developed by scientists in 1995 and government approval beginning in 2009. In 2012 the University announced an end to the Enviropig program, and the pigs themselves were euthanized in June 2012.
Salmon: On June 19th, 2015– the Food and Drug Administration made US history—for the first time ever a genetically modified animal has been approved for human consumption. The FDA effectively ended a long struggle for AquaBounty Technologies who had been seeking approval for its AquAdvantage salmon since the 1990s. The AquAdvantage salmon is genetically engineered to reach market size twice as fast as conventional, farmed Atlantic salmon. Not only does this new salmon contain a growth hormone from Chinook salmon, but it also contains a gene from a completely different species—the ocean pout—which allows the new growth hormone to remain active year round.
Go hug your local organic farmer or rancher,— get to know them, they are happy to sell to you. Shop local, and eat fresh. Buy low-processed, organic foods whenever possible and stay up to date on the fight for the right to eat clean food and water! Look for your local farmers markets and ask questions. We are our families advocates. Let’s all advocate for safe, naturally grown foods free from chemicals, petri dishes and preservatives. We all deserve a future free from illness.