What do corn chips, soy milk, and canola oil all have in common? All of them come from the main genetically modified (GM) crops that are grown in North America. Most of the more than fifty GM plant varieties that can be eaten by humans have been changed to be resistant to herbicides and pests. For example, the way tomatoes and cantaloupes ripen has been changed. Soybeans and sugar beets are resistant to herbicides, and corn and cotton plants are more resistant to insects that eat them.
Due to genetic modification, there are several kinds of food that you might want to buy organic. For example, rice is changed to make it have more vitamin A, and sugar cane is made to be resistant to pesticides. Most sweeteners in processed foods come from corn, which is one of the most genetically modified crops in the United States. Gene editing has recently been approved for beets, and about 75% of the papaya crops in Hawaii are now genetically modified. Animals that were fed or injected with genetically modified products may have given birth to meat and dairy products. To avoid this, it is important to only buy animal products from animals that were raised on pasture and fed organic food. Mice that ate genetically modified peas had immune responses, which suggests that people could have very bad allergic reactions to them. These peas have a gene from kidney beans that makes them make a protein that kills pests. Vegetable oils and margarines are often made from soy, canola, cottonseed, or corn. These oils and margarines are used in processed foods, salad dressings, and restaurants. If these oils don’t say “Non-GMO” or “organic” on the label, they are probably genetically modified.
If you don’t want to eat genetically modified (GM) crops, watch out for maltodextrin, soy lecithin, soy oil, textured vegetable protein (soy), canola oil, corn products, and high-fructose corn syrup. Also, it’s best to avoid GM crops like some kinds of zucchini, crookneck squash, papayas from Hawaii, aspartame (NutraSweet), and milk with rbGH or rennet, which are used to make hard cheeses and contain genetically modified enzymes.
Some of these products may not be good to eat anyway, but if you don’t buy organic versions of them, you’ll probably be eating genetically modified food. This is something to worry about.
Even vitamin supplements may have GM material in them or have been changed genetically. For example, vitamin C is usually made from corn (check the label for “non-corn source”), and vitamin E is usually made from soy. Some fillers in vitamins A, B2, B6, B12, D, and K, like starch, glucose, and maltodextrin, may be made from GM corn. This is why it’s important to only buy high-quality vitamins from reliable sources that use organic materials.
We need to learn about the things we buy if we want to be responsible shoppers. By reading the labels on packaged goods, we can find out if they have ingredients like corn flour or cornmeal, soy flour, cornstarch, textured vegetable protein, corn syrup, or modified food starch. We should also be aware of what’s in soy sauce, tofu, soy drinks, soy protein isolate, soy milk, soy ice cream, soy cheese, margarine, and soy lecithin, among other things. If a product doesn’t say that it’s organic or doesn’t have GMOs, it’s best not to buy it because it’s likely to have GMOs.
By not buying GMO products, we can also help clean up the environment. Our planet is facing a number of toxic emissions, and nitrous oxide (N20), which makes up 10% of these gases, is a major one. This gas is 300 times more harmful than CO2, and it can stay in the air almost forever. About two-thirds of N20 emissions come from the use of nitrate fertilizers in industrial farms that have been genetically modified, especially those that use billions of tons of pesticides for factory farms and feedlots.
At the moment, the FDA does not require that GMO foods be marked. Because of this, it can be hard to tell if a product has genetically modified organisms in it because they may look the same as their non-GMO counterparts. This could be bad for the health of people who don’t know what they are eating. To stay away from GMO foods, it is important to know which foods have been genetically modified and which products come from them. A good way to avoid GMOs is to choose organic foods and products made from organic sources. Notably, it is thought that about 30,000 grocery store products contain genetically modified ingredients. This is mostly because soy is used in so many processed foods.