If you haven’t heard of the Non-GMO Project yet, it might be time to tune in. GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals created through genetic engineering, that merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding. GMOs are created, specifically, to withstand the direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. As you might suspect, however, studies continue to show that GMOs are connected with health issues, environmental issues and legal issues for farmer’s and consumers.
The Non-GMO project, however, is here to educate and empower consumers in the hopes of changing this situation. They are a non-profit, third party organization that verifies products as Non-GMO according to very strict standards. They’ve put a recent info-graphic together that I’m excited to share:
What foods are at risk of containing GMOs? As much as 80% of conventionally processed foods contain GMOs. Most agricultural crops used commercially present the biggest risk. According to the Non-GMO Project, here’s a breakdown of the percentage of the crop that contains GMOs 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)
Also at high-risk are animal products (milk, meat, eggs, honey, etc.) because of contamination in feed. Further, there are many common ingredients used in processed and packaged goods that are generally derived from GMO risk crops, including 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, and Yeast Products.
If you look across the world, most other developed countries do not consider GMOs to be safe, with major restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs, including Japan, the European Union and Australia. In the United States, however, many studies are conducted by the companies that create the GMOs in the first place, making the data biased. Not very ethical if you ask me.
If you want to keep you and your family safe from these extremely questionable organisms, here’s some things you can do:
- Become Educated: The Non-GMO Project offers a great amount of information, and I highly recommend you troll their site to become well-versed on the topic. You can learn why GMOs are bad for the environment, why they are bad for farmers and why they are bad for us.
- Look for the Stamp: The Non-GMO Project provides a seal on those products they’ve verified as being Non-GMO. Purchase those products that have the seal whenever possible. Also, the Non-GMO Project lists all of their verified products and foods here.
- Buy Organic Whole Foods (Produce and Meats): Most produce and meats don’t ever contain the Non-GMO Project seal, but if they are organic, you can feel confident that they aren’t genetically modified.
- Buy 100% Organic Packaged Foods:When it comes to packaged foods, things get a bit trickier. Whenever possible, choose foods labeled as 100% Organic, as these contain 100 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt) and are completely GMO-free. If something is Certified Organic / USDA Organic / Organic, then at least 95 percent of content is organic by weight (excluding water and salt), but the remaining 5% may be up for grabs, even though they are usually GMO-Free. Unfortunately, if a product is labeled as “Made with Organic,” and does not have a “USDA Organic” label, it is not typically GMO-Free.
- Speak Up: If your state is considering passing legislation to require food companies to label their foods, sign petitions, get involved and do whatever you can to raise awareness in your community. The more people who voice their opposition to these organisms and methods of farming, the less likely they’ll stick around.
Do you want to know if your food is or comes from GMOs? Do you look for GMO-Free foods? Are you part of the movement?