Tips For Avoiding Genetically Modified (GM) Foods

(Before It’s News)

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7 million consumers in the United States think that genetically modified (GM) foods aren’t safe, but find it difficult to avoid them because the US does not require food companies to label genetically modified ingredients (GMOs).

In response to this problem, IRT launched The Campaign For Healthier Eating in America in 2008, to help educate the public on the documented Health Risks of GMOs and make it easy for shoppers to find healthy non-GMO brand choices with the Non-GMO Shopping Guide.

Tip #1: Buy Organic

Certified organic products cannot intentionally include any GMO ingredients. Buy products labeled “100% organic,” “organic,” or “made with organic ingredients.” You can be doubly sure if the product also has a Non-GMO Project Verified Seal. Read more about organic standards…

Look for Non-GMO Project Seals

Products that carry the Non-GMO Project Seal are independently verified to be in compliance with North America’s only third party standard for GMO avoidance, including testing of at-risk ingredients. The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization committed to providing consumers with clearly labeled and independently verified non-GMO choices. Look for dairy products labeled “No rBGH or rBST,” or “artificial hormone-free.”

Tip #3:  Avoid at-risk ingredients

If it’s not labeled organic or verified non-GMO: Avoid products made with ingredients that might be derived from GMOs (see list). The eight GM food crops are Corn, Soybeans, Canola, Cottonseed, Sugar Beets, Hawaiian Papaya (most) and a small amount of Zucchini and Yellow Squash.

Sugar If a non-organic product made in North American lists “sugar” as an ingredient (and NOT pure cane sugar), then it is almost certainly a combination of sugar from both sugar cane and GM sugar beets.

Dairy Products may be from cows injected with GM bovine growth hormone. Look for labels stating No rBGH, rBST, or artificial hormones.

Tip #4: Download our Shopping Guides

Use either IRT’s new Non-GMO Shopping Tips brochure or redesigned Non-GMO Shopping Guide to help you identify and avoid GM foods. We devote an entire page in each guide to help you uncover hidden GM ingredients on food labels that often read more like a chemical periodic table. If you have an iPhone, download our ShopNoGMO guide for free from the iTunes store.
*May be derived from other sources.

If you have a favorite restaurant, and you eat there often, you should only need to ask these questions once. It’s helpful to have a knowledgeable server or chef guide you through the menu to help you avoid GM foods. It’s not too hard to identify the non-GMO options.

A good first question is, “What oil do you cook with?” If they use soy, cottonseed, canola, or corn oils they are likely GM if they are not organic. If so, ask if they have anything that is cooked without oil, or if olive oil or some other oil can be used. If they say they cook in “vegetable oil” or margarine, it will almost always be soy, cottonseed, canola, or corn oils. If they have olive oil, be sure it’s not a blend. Many restaurants blend canola and olive.
Since most processed foods contain GM derivatives (corn and soy, for example), ask what foods the chef prepares fresh, and choose those items. But check if packaged sauces are used.
Try to avoid processed foods with the oils mentioned above, or with soy and corn derivatives, including: soy flour, soy protein, soy lecithin, textured vegetable protein, corn meal, corn syrup, dextrose, maltodextrin, fructose, citric acid, and lactic acid.
Other potential sources of GM foods at restaurants include salad dressings, bread, and mayonnaise, and sugar from GM sugar beets.
To avoid dairy products from cows treated with genetically modified rbGH, in U.S. restaurants you will likely have to avoid menu items with dairy, unless the restaurant uses organic products or buys from a dairy that is on our list of those that avoid rbGH. Industrialized nations outside the U.S. have not approved rbGH. Avoid the tabletop sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet® or Equal®), which is genetically modified.

Other Sources of GMOs

Most Hawaiian papayas are GM, as are small amount of zucchini and yellow squash. Ordering these products are a gamble. Food additives, enzymes, flavorings, and processing agents, including rennet used to make hard cheeses, can be GM, are harder to avoid. It is also difficult to avoid meat, eggs, and dairy products from animals that have eaten GM feed, unless the restaurant uses organic, 100% grass-fed, or wild caught . Honey and bee pollen may have GM sources of pollen.

Some of the Foods That May Contain GM Ingredients:

Infant formula, salad dressing, bread, cereal, hamburgers and hotdogs, margarine, mayonnaise, cereals, crackers, cookies, chocolate, candy, fried food, chips, veggie burgers, meat substitutes, ice cream, frozen yogurt, tofu, tamari, soy sauce, soy cheese, tomato sauce, protein powder, baking powder, alcohol, vanilla, powdered sugar, peanut butter, enriched flour and pasta.
If you plan ahead, you can call or email the restaurant you plan to visit and ask for a list that lets you know: Going through this process will not only give you a superb list of healthy eating options, but informs the restaurant that you prefer healthier non-GMO options when you dine out, a win, win situation for everyone.
Consumers control the future of food.The stakes are high, but consumers inevitably control the outcome. We saw that a small percentage of shoppers avoiding GM brands was enough to trigger a dairy industry cleanout of bovine growth hormone (rbGH and rbST). A consumer driven tipping point a decade ago has kept GMOs out of the European Union food supply in spite of government approvals. The estimated critical number for a US tipping point is as little as 15 million health conscious shoppers choosing non-GMO brands.

Together, we can make it happen!

Please join us. Use our Non-GMO Shopping Guide when you write out your shopping list. Download a PDF of the guide for free or order the print version for your pocket or purse when you shop. Download our free mobile App for the iPhone, ShopNoGMO and take it with you wherever you go. Use the ‘Dine Out Non-GMO’ information in our guides to help you find non-GMO choices in restaurants.

Sign up for our free newsletter and stay informed on upcoming Non-GMO Month events in your community.

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