What Are GMOs or Genetically Modified Organisms?
by Samantha Wilkinson, MS, RDN, LD
You may hear and see manufacturers boast that their product is non-GMO on their food packages. But what does that mean? A genetically modified organism is an organism whose genetic makeup has been changed using genetic engineering techniques, which includes physically inserting a piece of DNA via syringe or attaching the genes to a virus.
Basically, the genes of these foods become little X-Men with mutated genes. Some of the health risks associated with GMO consumption include: Intestinal bleeding/damage, stomach bleeding, allergy development, and potentially precancerous cell growth.
Always feed your body whole, earth-grown foods without pesticides, mutations or fillers. Also, look for packaging to state “non-GMO”, such as, eggs from non-GMO chickens, for example.
Below is a list of genetically modified foods that you should try to avoid at all costs (look at the ingredient list!):
• According to the USDA, in 2011, 94% of the soybean crops in the US were genetically modified
• Can be found in soy products, such as tofu, soy milk, soy sauce, miso, and tempeh, as well as any product containing the emulsifier lecithin (derived from soybean oil)
• According to the USDA, in 2011, 88% of the corn crops in the US were genetically modified
• Found in hundreds of products, including: breakfast cereals, corn-flour products (tortillas or chips), corn oil products (mayonnaise or shortening), and anything sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, including, sweetened fruit drinks, cookies, yogurts, soups, condiments
• Avoid buying poultry, beef and eggs that have been fed a GMO diet (corn meal, corn products) and opt for free-range or grass-fed
• According to the New York Times, in 2010, 90% of the canola crops in the US were genetically modified
• Found in any canola oil made in the USA
• Originated from grapeseed oil by breeders in Canada (the name is an abbreviation for “Canadian oil, low acid”)
• Comes from a genetically modified plant that is no longer harvested, but grows across the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Canada
• Contains recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), a synthetic hormone injected into cows to increase milk production
• 17% of US cows were injected with rBST in 2007 (most recent figure)
• Milk from rBST-treated cows contain increased levels of Insulin Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1), a hormone that may increase risks for certain cancers
• No label is required for milk from cows injected with rBST
• Non-rBST milk manufacturers will boast on the front label
• Artificial sweetener from genetically modified microorganisms
• Found in over 6,000 products, including diet sodas
• Avoid anything containing Nutrasweet, Equal (blue packets), or aspartame & opt for honey or agave syrup instead