How to Avoid GMO Foods


The controversial Genetically Modified (GM) foods, known by opponents as "frankenfoods," entered the grocery story picture in the 1990s. Because researchers don't have complete understanding of these foods, which fall into three groups--crops such as certain types of sweet corn and tomatoes, dairy products such as growth hormone used in dairy cows, and enzymes and additives from GM bacteria and fungus such as soybean derivatives--not much is known about any long-term health risks that the GM-foods pose to humans, if any. Following are some considerations on how to steer clear of these foods.

Things You'll Need

  • Food labels
  • Price Look Up (PLU) codes
  • Study food labels carefully. Seek out "Non-GMO" products, meaning they contain no genetically modified organisms.

  • Buy all organic produce and organic foods where possible. Organic foods in general cannot contain genetically altered ingredients.

  • Peel labels off fruits and vegetables after you shop. One example of a highly modified food is corn, where an estimated 60 percent of all corn comes from crops is genetically altered. To determine whether your food is genetically modified, look at what is known as the PLU code on the label, a numeric system created by the Produce Electronic Identification Board. If the code is:

    a) a four-digit number, it is grown through conventional means
    b) a five-digit number starting with 9, it is organic
    c) a five digit number starting with 8, it is genetically modified.

  • Steer clear of items on shelves that contain some form of corn, such as corn syrup or corn starch, soy (lecithin, vegetable oil), canola (oil) or cottonseed (oil), as these ingredients may have come from genetically modified plants.

  • Shop for milk where the label indicates it does not contain recombinant bovine growth hormone.

  • Avoid products, including diet-related drinks and drink mixes, that contain the artificial ingredient, "aspartame," which is produced by Monsanto with use of genetically modified bacteria, according to a UK news source.

  • Stay away from oils or margarines (soy, corn, canola, cottonseed), unless they contain the words "non-GMO" or "organic." Other nonmodified choices include olive oil, sunflower, safflower or butter.

  • Reduce amount of processed foods that you bu.

  • Support local farmers who grow organic-only crops. If you're not sure whether they do, you can visit Web sites such as Local Harvest to find out which farmers operate near you. Learn about how they grow their crops and buy locally.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you strongly consider choosing "non-GMO" products in as many food choices as possible, write or contact manufacturers that produced your previous favorite foods and tell them of your choice. Tell them you'd be willing to reconsider them if they get rid of all GM ingredients in their products. One small step may make a difference if many others do the same thing and stand up to mass manufacturers.


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