At the Seeds of Doubt conference outside of Boulder, CO, last weekend, I learned exactly which fruits and vegetables in our country could be grown from a genetically-modified seed and end up in your grocery cart and you would never know it.
Europe has banned GM foods for human and animal consumption for more than a decade while the American government has not acted to protect the public health from the corporate goals of the GMO industry. Even developing nations in dire need for food have recognized the risks of tinkering with our sustenance in this way. In 2002, Zambia rejected a donation of GM corn seeds even though they were on the brink of famine, saying science had not yet proven their safety. Still, GMOs have infiltrated the U.S.A. at many levels.
The GMO industry doesn’t even want us to know when we’re eating GM foods, because they fear we will reject them if we knew what we were eating, so they are fighting labeling initiatives at the state level. They have good reason to fear this as experiments have shown that even animals will reject GM feed when given the option. The more we learn about Genetically Modified foods and this experiment with the public health and its effects on our future generations and our lands, the more certain of that rejection we will become.
To start, we need to know which foods gracing our tables every day could be, if grown on non-organic farms, Genetically Modified produce. It’s a pretty short list, though most of these are ubiquitous in our cuisine:
- Canola (95% of the canola crop is “Roundup Ready”)
- Sugar Beets
Unless you see the word “organic” associated with these items, you can be pretty sure these days that these crops were grown from genetically modified seeds. These seeds have been genetically modified to be “Roundup Ready” (TM), or amenable to the glyphosate-based fertilizer that is used in Monsanto’s “RoundUp” (TM) fertilizer product.
Three other vegetables and fruits are Genetically Modified to be virus resistant:
- Papaya from Hawaii (papaya from other places are not GMO)
- Crookneck squash
In March of 2012 the FDA approved the unlabeled sale of genetically modified salmon in the U.S. The only way to ensure you are not purchasing these mutant salmon-like fish, you must choose salmon labeled “wild-caught”.
Another everyday Genetically Modified item that may surprise you: Aspartame, otherwise known as Equal, is a GM product. Yet one more reason not to drink diet sodas.
You can check if the items at your local grocery store are Genetically Modified with the ShopNoGMO chart and free mobile phone app. Also, you can support labeling initiatives, so that at the very least we can each choose to eat franken-foods or not. Knowledge is power.
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