The debate over foods and products that fall into the classification of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) continues to rage. Although exact numbers are difficult to find, 2011 data from the ISAAA (International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications) report showed these staggering numbers for high-risk crops:
- Sugar beets – 95% GMO
- Soy – 94% GMO
- Corn – 88% GMO
- Cotton – 90% GMO
If these numbers do not shock you, they should, since we are exposed to them in many different forms each day. For instance, sugar beets become granulated sugar, as well as the sweeteners for many food products, but the exposure does not stop there. Sugar beets are also fed to beef in the form of dried beet pulp, which provides a carbohydrate-packed animal feed capable of increasing the weight gain in beef cattle. So even if you do not choose to eat beet sugars in your diet, you could still be ingesting GMOs through the commercially grown beef on your dinner plate.
The US Stance on GMOs
Often referred to as the breadbasket of the world, the United States has been a leading exporter of wheat, corn and other grains throughout much of the past century. However, since a 1992 ruling by the Food and Drug Administration recognized foods that were genetically modified as safe, some countries, who were former customers for our products have since decided to withdraw their interest in GMO-modified American foods. These countries Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and many more.
The Big Unknown
Since the United States does not require labeling of genetically engineered foods and there is no requirement that these foods undergo testing to determine if they are carcinogenic, unsafe for fetuses, or have long term effects on humans or animals, the consumer must bear the responsibility to decide whether or not to choose these foods and products for their own use.
What is known, however, is that genetically modified crops have now achieved the dubious honor of helping to bring about an infestation of “superweeds” across millions of acres of American cropland. As the GMO grain crops receive treatment after treatment of herbicides to deter weeds and improve yields, the weeds became more resistant to the herbicides. To deal with these difficult weeds, many commercial crop farmers are resorting to the use of even more toxic chemicals in an attempt to kill these “superweeds”, and creating more exposure for the grain crops in the process.
Can You Avoid GMOs?
Avoiding GMO products is not an easy task, but by shopping carefully and doing due diligence, it is possible to minimize your risk of purchasing them. Mopfrog offers the following helpful tips.
- Search out and choose organic foods whenever possible
- Look for foods that bear the Non-GMO Project Seal
- Choose to grow some of your foods using heirloom seeds and natural methods for amending the soil and for insect and weed control
- Search out local producers for pasture raised meats and poultry that do not use GMO feeds
- Obtain a shopper’s guide from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) for even more great tips on avoiding GMO foods and products