The issue of genetically engineered (GE) or genetically modified (GM) crops—the terms are used interchangeably—is becoming a much-discussed topic in the United States.
According to the Center for Food Safety, “A number of studies over the past decade have revealed that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment. Human health effects can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer.”
The majority of the population doesn’t want to eat GE foods, yet a large percentage of our food—especially processed foodstuffs—contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Recently, four crops—corn, soybeans, canola and cotton—have been the source of the majority of genetically modified ingredients in our food. However, that will change radically with the USDA’s fresh approval of GE alfalfa and sugar beets. In addition, the FDA is on the verge of approving GE salmon.
Even more damning is that foods containing GMOs do not have to be labeled as such, leaving most consumers in the dark about their presence, and, I would argue, their very existence.
In response, some food companies with a conscience (they do exist!) have taken to labeling their foods GMO-free. For example, I just noticed a logo—“NON GMO Project VERIFIED”—on a bottle of San-J soy sauce (photo, above; click for more detail). A bottle bought several months ago did not have that label.
Remember, organic products are not allowed to have GMOs, so buying organic, when feasible, is always the safest play, especially since many non-organic GMO-free foods aren't labeled like the soy sauce.
A great resource for better understanding and avoiding GMOs is the Center for Food Safety’s “True Food Shopper’s Guide,” which lists non-GMO and GMO brands for all food groups. Click here to read it now. A free app is also available; download it on iTunes or Android Market.