Posts tagged ‘GMO’

June 7, 2013

GMO Facts

Source: The Non-GMO Project

Frequently Asked Questions

Boy eating corn XSmallWhat are GMOs?
GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. These experimental combinations of genes from different species cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.

Virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. Despite biotech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.

Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.

Are GMOs safe?
Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe. In more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. In the U.S., the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale. Increasingly, Americans are taking matters into their own hands and choosing to opt out of the GMO experiment.

Are GMOs labeled?
Unfortunately, even though polls consistently show that a significant majority of Americans want to know if the food they’re purchasing contains GMOs, the powerful biotech lobby has succeeded in keeping this information from the public. In the absence of mandatory labeling, the Non-GMO Project was created to give consumers the informed choice they deserve.

Where does the Non-GMO Project come in?
The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization with a mission of protecting the non-GMO food supply and giving consumers an informed choice. We offer North America’s ONLY third party verification for products produced according to rigorous best practices for GMO avoidance (for more info, click here). Our strategy is to empower consumers to make change through the marketplace. If people stop buying GMOs, companies will stop using them and farmers will stop growing them.

Do Americans want non-GMO foods and supplements?
Polls consistently show that a significant majority of North Americans would like to be able to tell if the food they’re purchasing contains GMOs (a 2012 Mellman Group poll found that 91% of American consumers wanted GMOs labeled). And, according to a recent CBS/New York Times poll, 53% of consumers said they would not buy food that has been genetically modified. The Non-GMO Project’s seal for verified products will, for the first time, give the public an opportunity to make an informed choice when it comes to GMOs.

How common are GMOs?
In the U.S., GMOs are in as much as 80% of conventional processed food. Click here for a current list of GMO risk crops.

Why does the Non-GMO Project verify products that have a low risk of containing GMOs?
Some ingredients that seem low-risk may have less-visible high-risk ingredients.  Take, for example, dried fruit.  Raisins and similar fruit are sometimes packed with a small quantity of oil to keep them moist.  This oil, when used, is sometimes high-GMO-risk.  As such, it is critical that we do take the time to look carefully at ingredient spec sheets during the verification process, to ensure that risks like this are effectively mitigated, even in apparently low-risk products.

Contamination incidents have occurred with seemingly “low-risk” products (rice, starling corn, flax). Non-GMO Project Verification supports manufacturers in being able to quickly and proactively respond to unexpected contamination issues.

Verifying only high-risk products puts a heavy burden on consumers to know what products are at risk of containing GMOs.  Many people, even in the world of Natural Foods, don’t know what a GMO is, let alone which crops and processed ingredients are high-risk.  As such, labeling only products that contain high-risk ingredients could give an unfair competitive advantage to products that contain ingredients containing corn, soy, etc.  Taking the cereal aisle for our example, if we verified only high-risk products, a shopper might see the seal on a box of verified corn flakes, but not on the wheat-based cereal box next to them, produced with the same high standards by the same company. This could leave them thinking the corn flakes were non-GMO, but that they should avoid the wheat product, even though there’s no GMO wheat on the market.  Given the lack of understanding of the issue, this presents some serious issues.

Through verifying low-risk products, the Non-GMO Project’s work builds consumer interest and industry investment in Non-GMO, even for crops that aren’t genetically engineered yet.  Biotech is constantly working to patent and commercialize new organisms (salmon, apples, etc.), and the more companies that have committed to Non-GMO production, the more resistance these new developments will see prior to release.

What are the impacts of GMOs on the environment?
Over 80% of all GMOs grown worldwide are engineered for herbicide tolerance. As a result, use of toxic herbicides like Roundup has increased 15 times since GMOs were introduced. GMO crops are also responsible for the emergence of “super weeds” and “super bugs:’ which can only be killed with ever more toxic poisons like 2,4-D (a major ingredient in Agent Orange). GMOs are a direct extension of chemical agriculture, and are developed and sold by the world’s biggest chemical companies. The long-term impacts of GMOs are unknown, and once released into the environment these novel organisms cannot be recalled.

How do GMOs affect farmers?
Because GMOs are novel life forms, biotechnology companies have been able to obtain patents with which to restrict their use. As a result, the companies that make GMOs now have the power to sue farmers whose fields are contaminated with GMOs, even when it is the result of inevitable drift from neighboring fields. GMOs therefore pose a serious threat to farmer sovereignty and to the national food security of any country where they are grown, including the United States.

How can I avoid GMOs?
Choose food and products that are Non-GMO Project Verified! Click here to see a complete list.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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October 18, 2012

What is GMO?

In celebration of the 3rd annual Non-GMO month, here is a little information about genetically modified organisms. Reposted from Non-GMO Project

For consumers, it can be difficult to stay up-to-date on food ingredients that are at-risk of being genetically modified, as the list of at-risk agricultural ingredients is frequently changing. As part of the Non-GMO Project’s commitment to informed consumer choice, we work diligently to maintain an accurate list of risk ingredients.

Agricultural products are segmented into two groups: (1) those that are high-risk of being GMO because they are currently in commercial production, and (2) those that have a monitored risk because suspected or known incidents of contamination have occurred and/or the crops have genetically modified relatives in commercial production with which cross-pollination (and consequently contamination) is possible. For more information on the Non-GMO Project’s testing and verification of risk ingredients and processed foods, please see the Non-GMO Project Standard.

High-Risk Crops (in commercial production; ingredients derived from these must be tested every time prior to use in Non-GMO Project Verified products (as of December 2011):

  • Alfalfa (first planting 2011)
  • Canola (approx. 90% of U.S. crop)
  • Corn (approx. 88% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Cotton (approx. 90% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Papaya (most of Hawaiian crop; approximately 988 acres)
  • Soy (approx. 94% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Sugar Beets (approx. 95% of U.S. crop in 2010)
  • Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash (approx. 25,000 acres)

ALSO high-risk: animal products (milk, meat, eggs, honey, etc.) because of contamination in feed.

Monitored Crops (those for which suspected or known incidents of contamination have occurred, and those crops which have genetically modified relatives in commercial production with which cross-pollination is possible; we test regularly to assess risk, and move to “High-Risk” category for ongoing testing if we see contamination):

  • Beta vulgaris (e.g., chard, table beets)
  • Brassica napa (e.g., rutabaga, Siberian kale)
  • Brassica rapa (e.g., bok choy, mizuna, Chinese cabbage, turnip, rapini, tatsoi)
  • Curcubita (acorn squash, delicata squash, patty pan)
  • Flax
  • Rice

Common Ingredients Derived from GMO Risk Crops
Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Ethanol, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products.

You may also be wondering about…

  • Tomatoes: In 1994, genetically modified Flavr Savr tomatoes became the first commercially produced GMOs. They were brought out of production just a few years later, in 1997, due to problems with flavor and ability to hold up in shipping. There are no genetically engineered tomatoes in commercial production, and tomatoes are considered “low-risk” by the Non-GMO Project Standard.
  • Potatoes: Genetically modified NewLeaf potatoes were introduced by Monsanto in 1996. Due to consumer rejection  several fast-food chains and chip makers, the product was never successful and was discontinued in the spring of 2001. There are no genetically engineered potatoes in commercial production, and potatoes are considered “low-risk” by the Non-GMO Project Standard.
  • Wheat: There is not currently, nor has there ever been, any genetically engineered wheat on the market. Of all “low-risk” crops, this is the one most commonly (and incorrectly) assumed to be GMO. It is a key commodity crop, and the biotech industry is pushing hard to bring GMO varieties to market. The Non-GMO Project closely watches all development on this front.
  • Salmon: A company called AquaBounty is currently petitioning the FDA to approve its genetically engineered variety of salmon, which has met with fierce consumer resistance. Find out more here.
  • Pigs: A genetically engineered variety of pig, called Enviropig was developed by scientists at the University of Guelph, with research starting in 1995 and government approval sought beginning in 2009. In 2012 the University announced an end to the Enviropig program, and the pigs themselves were euthanized in June 2012.

To for further information about genetically modified organisms, stop in to Baums Natural Foods today to pick up a free information guide. More information may also be found at nongmoproject.org

February 9, 2012

Why Would You Eat That?!

Because You Don’t Even Know it’s There…

You may have come across an article or heard the term “GMO” or “Genetically Modified Organism” mentioned on a news piece, but do you know what it is?  I think you should because genetically modified organisms have the potential to wipe out everything natural about our food supply!
A GMO is created when the DNA of different species is fused to form a type of plant or food that does not exist in nature or is not created by traditional cross-breeding. Foreign genes from one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal usually in a laboratory.
Why would someone do this? The major benefit of all commercial GMO’s is that they are bred to either tolerate direct application of herbicides and/or have the ability to produce their own pesticides. They have not been bred to  improve nutrition or to have any other benefit to the consumer. So at present they have no health benefit, their benefits are purely economic.

Are there fish genes in your tomatoes?

Traditional breeding makes it possible to mate a pig with a different pig to create a new variety of pig, the same goes with hybridizing different tomato seeds for example. But, can you fathom combining totally unrelated species such as plants and animals together? With genetic engineering scientists can now overcome the barriers established by nature and create traits that are almost impossible to achieve through natural processes such as cross-breeding or grafting. For example, they have spliced fish genes into tomatoes. Human genes into dairy cows so that they produce “human-like” milk!
It reminds me of the H.G. Wells novel, The Island of Dr. Moreau. The novel deals with a number of philosophical themes, including moral responsibility, and human interference with nature.

How Can You Tell if What You’re Buying is GMO?

It’s not easy, despite the fact that 80% of processed foods are believed to contain GMO’s. Political influence and money has prevented the passing of labeling laws even though 87% of Americans are in favor of labeling them and 53% would not eat GM foods.
This is in sharp contrast to most other developed nations around the world, where there are significant restrictions or outright bans on GMO’s.
By reading the PLU code (a set of numbers), you can tell if your produce was genetically modified, organically grown or produced with chemical fertilizers, fungicides, or herbicides.

Here’s what to look for: Look for the labels (stickers) stuck on your fruits and veggies:

A four-digit number means it’s conventionally grown. (with chemicals)

A five-digit number beginning with 9 means it’s organic. (no chemicals)

A five-digit number beginning with 8 means it’s GM. (genetically modified & with chemicals)
The numeric system was developed by the Produce Electronic Identification Board

How does this impact the environment?

Except for soy, which does not cross-pollinate, pollen from GM crops can contaminate nearby crops of the same kind. In Mexico for example, it has been found that almost all heritage varieties of corn have some contamination. In addition, studies are showing that pesticide producing crops (GMO crops) are contaminating nearby streams thereby affecting aquatic life too. Additionally, beneficial insects may be harmed too and super weeds are evolving as they develop resistance to herbicides. When that happens, more herbicide is used to try to control the weeds and any benefit of herbicide resistant crops is decreased or negated. There is little doubt that the long- term effects on the environment could be disastrous.
Many European and South American countries have outright banned Monsanto’s genetically engineered seeds and crops. They don’t want the risk of having their heirloom crops being “infected” with the GMO species.  Meanwhile, millions of dollars are spent in this country by lobbyists, keeping GMO labeling off of American food packaging.  Would you eat it if you knew what it was?
Visit The Non-GMO Project at www.nongmoproject.org  for some advice on how to keep GMO’s out of your kitchen and how to get involved in getting labeling laws changed so people can know that they are buying something unnatural.
And, as always, call your senators and congressmen!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.