Today is Blog Action Day!
Blog Action Day is the one day of the year where thousands of bloggers, from all over the world
can work together to focus on one important global topic, and help raise awareness and money
for charities and social causes.
I chose this day to raise awareness of the dangers of GMO foods and ingredients and steps
that we can take to protect ourselves, our families and our environment.
Our children are most at risk from the potential dangers of GM foods, and parents and schools
are already looking for ways to make kids’ meals healthier.
Fundamentally, as consumers, we need to be able to exercise freedom of choice.
We have the right to know what is in the food we buy, so we can make an healthy, informed decisions.
Fortunately, October 2013 has been designated Non-GMO Month.
And thank goodness it is.
As far as I am concerned, every month should be Non GMO Month–but any promotional
campaign or tactic that heightens our awareness of the negative health and environmental
implications of GMOs (genetically modified organisms), and what to do about it, makes sense
Knowledge is power and there are numerous, powerful reasons why we need to understand
how to identify and avoid exposure to GMOs in our lives.
Like most of us, I’m sure by now you’ve heard the term GMO or genetically-modified.
But do you know what it means and which foods and ingredients are at high or moderate
risk for being GMO?
First, let’s make sure we are all clear about the definition of GMO.
According to the Non-GMO Project,
“GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,”
are plants or animals created through the
gene splicing techniques of biotechnology
(also called genetic engineering, or GE).
This experimental technology merges DNA
from different species, creating unstable
combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and
viral genes that cannot occur in nature
or in traditional crossbreeding.”
The health risks are well documented.
In fact, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine reported, that “several animal studies
indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,” including infertility, immune problems,
accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation as well as changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal
Consequently, they have urged physicians to prescribe healthier non-GMO foods to their patients.
These facts are jarring!
A major concern about the prevalence of GMOs in our food supply is whether they are safe for our children
and families to be eating.
According to the Institute for Responsible Technology, ”
“In North America, over 80%
of our food contains GMOs.
The sad truth is many of the foods that are
most popular with children contain GMOs.
Cereals, snack bars, snack boxes, cookies,
processed lunch meats, and crackers all
contain large amounts of high risk
As consumers, it is often challenging to stay up-to-date on food ingredients that are at-risk of
being genetically modified, because the list of at-risk agricultural ingredients is constantly
Fortunately, groups like the Non-GMO Project–which are commited to informed consumer choice–
work diligently to maintain an accurate list of risk ingredients.
This non-profit organization is committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products,
educating consumers and the food industry and increasing awareness about GMOs and their impact
on our health and food systems.
Most importantly, they offer North America’s only third party verification and labeling for non-GMO
food and products.
In addition to the health risks, the environmental impact is monumental.
The Non-GMO Project’s mission is critical, because as they’ve stated:
“One of the inherent risks of genetically modified crops
and food items is that they contaminate non-GMO crops
and foods through cross-pollination and/or contamination;
so we also work with food manufacturers, distributors,
growers, and seed suppliers to develop a standard for
detection of GMOs and for the reduction of contamination
risk of the non-GMO food supply with GMOs.”
Crops That Have a Risk of Being GMO
When it comes to GMOs, agricultural products have been divided into two groups:
(1) those that are high-risk of being GMO because they are currently in commercial production, and
(2) those that have a monitored risk because suspected or known incidents of contamination have occurred
and/or the crops have genetically modified relatives in commercial production with which cross-pollination
(and consequently contamination) is possible.
High Risk Crops
(Crops in commercial production.
Note: Ingredients derived from these crops must be tested every time prior to use in
Non-GMO Project Verified products (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)
*Animal products (milk, meat, eggs, honey, etc.) because of contamination in feed.
Data source: The Non-GMO Project
(Crops for which suspected or known incidents of contamination have occurred, and those
which have genetically modified relatives in commercial production with which cross-pollination
*Beta vulgaris (e.g., chard, table beets)
*Brassica napa (e.g., rutabaga, Siberian kale)
*Brassica rapa (e.g., bok choy, mizuna, Chinese cabbage, turnip, rapini, tatsoi)
*Curcubita (acorn squash, delicata squash, patty pan)
Data source: The Non-GMO Project
Ingredients Derived from GMO Risk Crops
Are any of these common ingredients currently in your home?
*Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”)
*High-Fructose Corn Syrup
*Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
*Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
Data source: The Non-GMO Project
It is important to note that these are commonly used items.
Unfortunately, there are many more foods, products, ingredients that contain GMOs as well.
What Can You Do?
Get in the kitchen and take inventory today.
Which high or moderate risk foods are in your home?
Check the labels on your products.
How many of the ingredients listed above are found in products in your kitchen?
We have the power to minimize and avoid exposure to GMO foods and ingredients.
We can remove risky products from our diets as soon as possible and begin to replace
-Certified organic products
-Foods and ingredients that are not on the lists above
-And shop proactively by searching for Non-GMO-verified products and brands
(To find out if a product is verified search the over 3000 products currently verified by the Non-GMO Project.)
-For more information on the Non-GMO Project’s testing and verification of risk ingredients and processed
foods, read more about the Non-GMO Project Standard.
-Take action. Encourage your favorite brands to participate in verification.
-If a brand you like is not verified, let them know about the Non-GMO Project verification program.
-Submit a product verification request.
-Shop smarter by using educational shopping reference booklets provided by
-Visit the Non-GMO Month website to learn more, find participating retailers and to locate scheduled events.
-Use the information and resources available at NonGMOShoppingGuide.com
We must use our collective voices and actions to help ensure a non-GMO food supply.
What are you doing to avoid GMOs in your diet? Share your thoughts and suggestions.
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