How to Be Informed and Educated About Genetically Modified Ingredients

Madeline: Posted 10/03/2015

Genetically modified ingredients are becoming more and more common on grocery store shelves, and it is frightening to think about the various ways that people could be damaging their health by eating GMOs. Many people are unaware of the health problems that can occur from GMOs, and they continue eating these dangerous foods. If you want to protect your health  and the health of your family, then you need to understand more about GMOs and the types of ingredients that you should be avoiding.

Common GMO Crops

Some of the most common GMO crops include corn, sugar beets, soybeans, cotton, and alfalfa. A high percentage of these crops are planted with genetically modified seeds, and the prevalence of these foods is becoming more common in our mainstream diet. For example, did you know that 98% of the soybean crops planted in the United States come from genetically modified seeds? Alfalfa is the fourth-largest crop in the US and a staple feed for livestock. It’s mostly used as hay for cattle. This means the animals have consumed genetically modified plants. You definitely do not want to eat foods, such as milk or beef, from animals that have been fed this diet.

These plants are modified to make them resistant to pesticides and other chemicals that are applied to the fields to kill weeds and other problematic elements. Many of these plants are created to be resistant to Roundup, which is an herbicide used to kill weeds. When the plants are growing, farmers can coat the fields in the herbicide to get rid of all of the weeds, but the original plants are unaffected by these harsh chemicals. The problem is that those foods are then served up at the dinner table, and you are eating food that was grown in a way that is genetically different from the natural form and coated in herbicides at the same time!

Deceiving Labels and Tricky Marketing

It can be difficult to read an ingredient label and determine if you are consuming genetically modified foods, especially because most companies will not openly advertise the fact that they are using genetically modified ingredients. There are a number of common ingredients that are added into modern, processed foods that originate from GMO ingredients.

Always read the labels! Look for products that are specifically labeled as non-GMO, and stay away from any product that contains these ingredients:

° Hydrogenated Oils have gone through an extensive process of about ten steps, which introduces toxins and changes the original structure of the oil. These are the types of oil you want to avoid, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated. Vegetable oils, like canola, corn, soy, cottonseed, are highly refined vegetable oils and are cheap to produce and easy to hydrogenate. They are known to disrupt your metabolism. These trans fatty acids are associated with heart problems, blood platelet abnormalities, increased cancer risk, free radical damage, etc.

° Canola Oil/or Soybean Oil are the most common vegetable oils used in processed foods and often seen together on a product label. Both are ubiquitous in the U.S. food supply, being found in countless manufactured food items sold at grocery stores everywhere. Canola oil is also referred to as Rapeseed Oil.

° Soy Lecithin is primarily obtained from plants that contain oils and, as a rule, from soybeans. Some food producers process exclusively conventional soy raw materials. An absolute separation at all levels of processing between conventional and GM soybeans; however is not technically possible. Therefore, even raw materials declared to be “free of gene technology” may contain small quantities of GMO. Health supplements derived from soybeans, are quite common in mainstream supplements. You may very well see Soy Lecithin on product labels, so be cautious. My suggestion is to just avoid this ingredient.

° Corn Flour is an ingredient used in baked goods. For the production of corn flour (also known as hominy) and grits, the corn has to be germinated. It’s found in products, such as tortillas, tacos, tortilla chips and snack foods with corn.

° Cottonseed Oil is found in chips, pretzels and many boxed crackers, and is sometimes used to make margarine. The oil is also a source of vitamin E (tocopherol).  A new study shows that Vitamin E in canola, soybean, and corn oils damage the lungs. They contain high levels of gamma-tocopherol , which is a form of Vitamin E that is associated with decrease lung function and asthma.

° Sugar is usually genetically modified, unless it says 100% pure sugar cane. It is almost certainly a combination of sugar from both sugar cane and GM sugar beets.

° High Fructose Corn Syrup is among the sweeteners that have primarily replaced sucrose (table sugar) in the food industry and relatively cheaper to produce. You can find it in baked goods, canned fruits, dairy products, soda, most sweetend drinks, etc. Avoid any sweeteners such as fructose, dextrose, and glucose. They are made from genetically modified corn.

° Aspartame is a harmful artificial sweetener that needs to be avoided. It is composed of the two amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine. The amino acid, phenylalanine , may be manufactured with the aid of genetically modified micro-organisms (escherichia coli).The additive remains without labeling.

° Milk Hormone (rBGH) is found in most dairy products, which is a synthetic genetically modified hormone.

Here are a few labels with GMO ingredients.

How to Avoid Genetically Modified Foods in Your Home

If you want to avoid genetically modified foods, then you need to make sure that you are buying organic ingredients as much as possible. Always do your research if you are planning to buy processed or prepackaged foods, in order to determine if the company uses GMO-free ingredients. Most popular food manufacturers use GMO ingredients, so the best thing that you can do is to avoid processed foods all together.

Never buy a product without reading the labels first, and look for the companies that use organic, natural ingredients instead of the traditional ingredients that are produced from genetically modified plants.

When you buy meat, dairy, and eggs, it is best to stick with products that came from pasture raised and grass fed animals, or make sure that the product label says that the meat is 100% certified organic. Many times, conventionally raised animals are given genetically modified feed and high levels of hormones and antibiotics, making the meat dangerous to eat. Conventionally raised products might look ok, but they are filled with many things that you shouldn’t be eating!

If you plan to eat fish, stay away from any farmed fish. Make sure that the label specifies that the fish is wild caught, such as wild caught Alaskan salmon. There are many health benefits that can be achieved from eating fish, but it can be harmful to your health to be eating fish that are raised in a farmed setting because they are very toxic and unhealthy.

Even though it might be tempting to save a little bit of money and buy conventional foods instead of organic, GMO-free products, you need to remember that these harmful ingredients can be very dangerous to your health. You might not experience these health problems right away, but there are a number of health concerns that can begin to develop when you are eating these GMO ingredients, especially when they are being consumed over a long period of time.

Do the best that you can to stick with natural, organic ingredients, and you will be able to avoid the many health problems that can arise from GMO ingredients.


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