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GMOs. What are they? Why should you avoid them? How can you avoid them without tripling the cost of your groceries every week? Experts have said that 60 to 70 percent of processed foods on the grocery store shelves in the United States have genetically modified ingredients. Most states have no requirements in place to label products containing genetically modified ingredients. It’s up to us to figure out what they are and learn to avoid them.
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What is a GMO?
A genetically modified organism (GMO) is a plant or animal that has had their genes modified with genes from a different plant, animal, organism, insect, yeast, virus or bacteria. These are combinations that cannot occur naturally in nature. These modifications are done by scientists in labs. It’s NOT about crossing two different tomatoes or two different types of corn.
Why should you care?
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine released a paper that stated GMO Foods pose a serious health risk and that “immediate long term safety testing” needs to be done. Studies on animals have shown “pre-cancerous cell growth, damaged immune systems, smaller brains, livers, and testicles, partial atrophy or increased density of the liver, odd shaped cell nuclei and other unexplained anomalies, false pregnancies and higher death rates.” (See reference.)
Scientists believe that Colony Collapse Disorder (the disappearance of the honey bees) is the result of a pesticide called neonicotinoids. Companies like Monsanto, Bayer CropSciences and Dow Agrosciences use these neonicotinoids in the pesticides, herbicides and seeds they sell to farmers who grow genetically engineered crops. The GMO foods we are growing are killing the honey bees. No honey bees = no food. It’s not just the bees that are effected. Bird and butterfly populations have declined as a result as well.
Genetically modified crops are becoming more and more common and are starting to contaminate non-GMO crops through cross pollination. Even organic products may be contaminated and once contaminated, the process cannot be reversed.
How can you avoid them?
- Buying organic is the best way to avoid GMOs. If a product is labelled organic, it cannot contain genetically modified organisms.
- Look for the Non-GMO Project Seal which indicates they have been verified to be non GMO.
- Genetically modified corn and soybeans make up the largest portion of GMO crops. If you buy something that is NOT labelled organic that contains corn or soy in any form, you are probably purchasing food that has been genetically modified.
- Look at the sticker on the produce. There will be a different PLU number on the sticker depending on if it is organic, conventional or GMO. Conventional foods will start with 1102. Organically grown foods with 91022. GMO foods with 81022.
- Avoid processed foods. 70 percent of processed foods contain genetically modified organisms.
- Avoid at risk ingredients including soy, corn, canola, cotton seed, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya and a small amount of zucchini and yellow squash.
- If you buy a product that lists “sugar” and it is NOT organic, it’s very likely that it is a combination of sugar cane and GMO sugar beets.
- When buying dairy look for products that state No rBGH, rBST, or artificial hormones.
- Download a printable Shoppers’ Guide or app to determine which foods are GMO. The iPhone app is free.
The choices you make while you’re grocery shopping can have a huge impact on your health, your children’s health and the health of our planet. Each time you choose a non-GMO product over a GMO product, you are sending a message to businesses that we are not interested in GMO foods. If enough people stand together, we can stop the damage before it’s too late. Say no to GMOs.
Ellen is a busy mom of a 22-year-old son and 27-year-old daughter. She owns 5 blogs and is addicted to social media. She believes that it doesn’t have to be difficult to lead a healthy life. She shares simple healthy living tips to show busy women how to lead fulfilling lives. If you’d like to work together, email firstname.lastname@example.org to chat.