Thursday, June 16, 2011

Avoiding GMO's

Repost Courtesy of: The FRESH Team

FRESH the movie

Are you eating genetically modified (GM) foods? Chances are, the answer is yes. Even if you shop mostly on the perimeter of the grocery store, most likely your cooking oil has GM corn or canola in it and your sugar came from GM beets. In fact, GM ingredients show up in 75% of processed foods in US groceries, but they’re not labeled, so consumers cannot discern GM products from natural ones.

FRESH is asking the FDA to mandate GM labeling now, but until that happens, here's how you can avoid GM foods in your diet:
  1. Choose organic

    To earn the “certified organic” label, a product cannot contain any GM ingredients, so buying organic foods is the easiest way to ensure your food is GMO-free. This applies even to products labeled “made with organic ingredients,” which must be 100% GMO-free, even if not all their ingredients meet other organic standards.
  2. Look for “non-GMO” labels

    Though you’re unlikely to see a product labeled as containing GM ingredients (at least in the US), many companies want consumers to know that a product is GMO-free. Some limit their claim to only high-risk ingredients, like corn, soy and the others listed below.
  3. Check the PLU code on produce

    In many groceries, fruits and vegetables are marked with a produce look-up (PLU) code. You can identify different types of produce with the following rules:

    • Conventional: Standard four digit PLU numbers (XXXX)
    • Genetically Modified: four digit PLUs prefixed with an 8 (8XXXX)
    • Organic: four digit PLUs prefixed with a 9 (9XXXX)
  4. Steer clear of products containing high-risk ingredients

    If you can’t find an organic or clearly labeled non-GMO alternative, you can protect yourself by simply not buying products that contain ingredients most likely to be genetically modified. These include:

    Corn: corn flour, corn meal, corn starch, corn oil, corn gluten, and corn syrup; sweeteners like fructose, dextrose, and sucrose
    Soy: soy lecithin, soy protein, soy flour, isoflavone; vegetable oil and vegetable protein; tofu, tamari, tempeh, and some alternative meat and dairy products not specifically labeled as free of GM-soy
    Canola: canola oil (also known as rapeseed oil)
    Cotton: cottonseed oil
    Margarine: almost always contains GM oil (either soy, corn, cottonseed, or canola)
    Sugar: GM sugar beets were recently approved for planting. To avoid GM sugar, purchase organic bulk sugar and products sweetened with 100% cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, agave, or organic/non-GMO sugar.
    Artificial Sweeteners: aspartame (NutraSweetTM and EqualTM)
    Meat, eggs, and dairy products: Avoid products from animals who have eaten GM-feed and dairy products containing the GM hormone rBGH/rBST
    Papayas: About half of the Hawaiian papaya crop is now GM.
    Vegetables: A small number of zucchini, sweet corn, and yellow crookneck squash are GM.
  5. Carry a non-GMO shopping guide

    Several handy tools and tip sheets are available to help you make informed choices at the grocery store. Here are a few to choose from:

    • True Food Shoppers’ Guide from the Center for Food Safety, available in print and as a free mobile app for iPhone and Android
    • The Non-GMO Project Online Product Directory, also available as a free app for the iPhone and iPod Touch
    • The Non-GMO Shopping Guide from the Institute for Responsible Technology and the Non-GMO Project, available online, as a PDF download, or in a handy pocket version
For more information on the dangers posed by GMOs and why we can’t continue to ignore these risks, see our blog post What You Don’t Know About GMOs CAN Hurt You.

Did you find this useful? Have better suggestions on how to identify GM foods? Share your ideas and leave a comment on our blog!


Ana & Crystal
The FRESH Team


  1. GMO = genetically modified organism (GMO) or genetically engineered organism

    Check out the documentary section for docs going into detail as to what this is.