How to Avoid Genetically Modified Food
The average supermarket is full of genetically modified foods. Here’s how you can avoid those products.
By Robin Mather
In the United States, 70 percent or more of the foods in your supermarket directly or indirectly contain genetically modified (GM) ingredients. The illustration below shows how prevalent GM foods have become on grocery store shelves.
The only way to avoid GM food is to know which ingredients are likely to be genetically modified and read labels carefully, or to always choose organic foods, which are certified GM-free.
Below are estimates of the percentages of GM foods found on store shelves. To learn more about this issue, see The Threats From Genetically Modified Foods.
Dairy/Eggs. Unless it’s labeled organic or rBST-free, everything in the dairy case, including milk, cheese and yogurt, probably contains milk from cows injected with rBST, a GM hormone used to make cows give more milk. It’s also likely that the cows and chickens were fed GM corn, soy and canola.
Meat. GM corn and soy are so dominant in the United States that almost everything in the meat case comes from animals fed GM crops.
Fresh Produce. Not many GM items yet, but GM sweet corn arrived in 2012.
Cereals. Unless labeled as organic, cereals probably include GM ingredients, primarily high-fructose corn syrup and other corn products, soy and milk proteins. Don’t be fooled by “natural” labels; they mean nothing.
Cookies/Snacks/Chips. Almost all include high-fructose corn syrup; soy, corn or canola oil; soy lecithin and other soy isolates; or other additives derived from GM corn and soy.
Pasta/Rice/Beans. You’re pretty safe here, because wheat, rice and beans are not (yet) genetically modified, but watch out for the heat-and-eat pasta meals that include GM ingredients.
Ice Cream/Frozen Prepared Meals. Unless labeled organic, these are virtually guaranteed to have GM ingredients, including corn and soy products, whey protein from rBST milk, and GM beet sugar.
Oils/Fats/Shortening. Olive oil is non-GM. “Vegetable oil” usually is GM, as are corn, soybean and canola oil. Solid shortenings are hydrogenated canola, corn and soybean oil.
Condiments/Prepared Foods. All of these items contain GM soy, corn and/or canola unless labeled organic.
Bread/Crackers. Almost all commercial bread is made with corn syrup and soy-based ingredients.
Illustration By Barry T. Fitzgerald