Avoiding GMOs—It’s Harder than You Think
By Stanley A. Fishman, Author of Tender Grassfed Meat
Want to avoid GMOs? You’re not alone. Polls consistently show that 90 percent of the people polled would not buy a product if they knew it contained GMOs.
Perhaps that is the reason that the United States government has made it illegal for manufacturers and sellers to label a product as containing GMOs.
While 90 percent of the people would not knowingly eat GMOs, it is likely that over 90 percent of the American food supply contains GMOs.
Even Organic Food May Be Contaminated with GMOs
I used to think that I could avoid GMOs by buying organic. Sadly, that is no longer true. Seeds from GMO crops are blown by the wind, or transferred by insects, and can contaminate non-GMO crops, even organic crops.
I learned this the hard way. We buy all of our milk and cream from an excellent local dairy. I was recently shocked to learn that the owner of the dairy had tested the organic grains he bought for his herd, and found that one-third of the grain was contaminated by GMOs. He now tests every lot of grain he gets before feeding it to his cattle. I had thoroughly investigated the dairy, researched their methods, philosophy, and feed. I was convinced that their products were free of GMOs. I was wrong.
The contamination of the Canadian flax crop by GMO flax was described on this website on November 9, 2009. https://momsforsafefood.org/Blog/Entries/2009/11/9_Entry_1.html
The situation has been made worse by the weakening of the organic standards. It used to be that the word “organic” meant that everything in the product had to be 100 percent organic and that no GMOs were allowed.
The new organic standards, adopted during the Bush Administration, created three different definitions of organic:
1)“100 percent organic” means that all ingredients in the product must be organic.
2)“Organic” means that no less than 95 percent of all ingredients in the product are organic. The remaining 5 percent do not have to be organic.
3)“Made with organic ingredients” means that at least 70 percent of the ingredients in the product are organic. The remaining 30 percent do not have to be organic.
I’ve seen conflicting information on whether the non-organic ingredients contained in organic products must be free of GMOs.
The contamination of organic crops by GMOs has become such a huge problem that a major effort is under way to test organic products for GMO contamination and to create a non-GMO label.
GMOs Are Everywhere
It is estimated that over 91 percent of the soybeans, over 75 percent of the corn, over 70 percent of the canola, and over 80 percent of the cotton grown in the United States is GMO. Oils made from soy, corn, canola, and cotton are commonly added to processed foods. These oils constitute the vast majority of “vegetable oil” used in the United States. Many other substances made from GMO soy and GMO corn are added to processed foods. Conventional vegetables are often coated with a wax that contains oils made from GMO soy and/or GMO corn.
GMO bacteria and other GMO substances are used in the manufacture of many medications. GMO soy products are often added to supplements. Pesticides containing GMOs are often sprayed on crops. Several artificial sweeteners contain GMOs.
How to Avoid GMOs
Since GMOs are so pervasive, it is hard to avoid them. But it is not impossible. Here are some tips that I use to avoid GMOs:
Avoid Processed Foods
Almost all conventional processed foods contain GMOs. An exception would be processed foods that state they have no GMOs. Even organic processed foods may contain GMOs, due to the contamination of organic crops by GMOs.
The only processed foods I buy are labeled 100 percent organic and do not contain any of the most common genetically altered crops, such as soy, corn, canola, and cotton. I will not buy something that contains “vegetable oil,” as vegetable oil almost always consists of soy, corn, or canola oil.
Eat Only Organic (Or the Equivalent) Dairy Products
Conventional dairy products almost always come from cattle that have been fed GMO feed, such as soy and corn. Some conventional cows have been injected with genetically modified bovine growth hormone. It is important to research the dairy you use to make sure that it really is organic, or the equivalent.
Eat Only Grassfed and Grass-Finished Beef, Lamb, and Bison
Conventionally raised beef, lamb, and bison are usually fed GMO feed.
Eat Only Organic (Or the Equivalent) Produce
Conventional produce is often sprayed with GMO pesticide, and/or coated with wax containing GMO oils.
Don’t Eat Anything Containing Soy, Corn, Canola, or Cotton
Because so many of these crops are GMO, even the organic versions are often contaminated with GMOs.
Only Eat Seafood that Is Wild Caught
Farmed fish and other farmed seafood are usually fed pellets made from GMO soy.
Do Not Use Artificial Sweeteners
Some artificial sweeteners are made with GMOs. If you must use a sweetener, stevia is a natural non-GMO substance.
Only Use Organic Sugar Made from Sugar Cane
At least half of the sugar in the United States is made from sugar beets. As of 2008, most of the sugar beets used for making sugar are GMO. While a Federal judge has recently ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture violated the law by approving the use of genetically modified sugar beets without first having a comprehensive report done on its environmental impact, the Court has not yet, to my knowledge, prohibited the actual sale and growing of these GMOs. Sugar made from sugar cane, is not GMO.
Know Your Source, Buy Local
One of the best ways to avoid GMOs is to buy as much of your food as possible from local farmers and ranchers who do not use GMOs. You can actually ask them how they raise their crops and animals, and find out exactly what you’re getting.
Be Informed and Be Vigilant
Knowledge is power. The biotech industry is constantly trying to introduce new GMO crops and the only way you will know about it is by checking the news on a regular basis. The conventional media is not interested in exposing the existence of new GMOs, and your best source is the Internet. There is no better place to start than this website.
Read more, great Fight Back Friday posts here: http://www.foodrenegade.com/fight-back-friday-november-13th/
I highly recommend Stanley’s cookbook, we use it all the time. – Mom