You probably have heard a lot about GMOs and even seen protests about them, but what are GMOs? Are they safe? Where do you find them? Here are the answers to such questions.
What are GMOs?
GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered to provide a perceived advantage to the producer or consumer of these foods. Such modifications can translate into a product with a lower price, greater benefits in terms of durability, nutritional value or both and will not occur naturally.
Are they safe?
Great question! When you eat GMOs you are introducing to your body substances that have not yet been tested for long-term effects in humans. However, from the studies available at this time, we know that foods containing GMOs have the potential to cause hepatic, pancreatic, gastrointestinal, renal and reproductive problems. Laboratory studies on animals have also shown that such foods can be toxic or allergenic. Many countries have strict restrictions regarding the use of GMOs in foods but this is not the case in the United States.
Are they common?
Yes, as much as 80% of processed foods sold in United States contain GMOs. The crops most likely to contain GMOs include: corn, canola, soy, papaya, sugar beets, zucchini and yellow summer squash.
Are GMOs labeled?
Unfortunately no. That is a big portion of the controversy regarding GMOs. Many consumers are requesting mandatory labeling in United States.
Are Organic Foods Non-GMOs?
Certified organic foods can’t intentionally include GMO ingredients, but no GMO testing is mandatory. Therefore, with organic food you will have a much better chance of avoiding GMOs, but it is certainly not a guarantee. Once again, mandatory labeling is the best solution to give you the right to choose what you eat.
Will GMOs impact my weight?
No, the main issue with GMOs is overall health.
For consumers, it can be difficult to stay up-to-date on food ingredients that are at-risk of being genetically modified, as the list of at-risk agricultural ingredients is frequently changing. As part of the Non-GMO Project's commitment to informed consumer choice, we work diligently to maintain an accurate list of risk ingredients.
Agricultural products are segmented 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. For more information on the Non-GMO Project's testing and verification of risk ingredients and processed foods, please see the non-gmo project standard.
High-Risk Crops (in commercial production; ingredients derived from these must be tested every time prior to use in Non-GMO Project Verified products (as of December 2011):
Listed in Appendix B of the Non-GMO Project Standard are a number of high-risk inputs, including those derived from GMO microorganisms, the above crops or animals fed these crops or their derivatives.
Monitored Crops (those for which suspected or known incidents of contamination have occurred, and those crops which have genetically modified relatives in commercial production with which cross-pollination is possible; we test regularly to assess risk, and move to “High-Risk” category for ongoing testing if we see contamination):
Common Ingredients Derived from GMO Risk Crops
Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Ethanol, Flavorings ("natural" and "artificial"), High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products