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Tag: genetically modified

On my last trip to Indonesia, I ate papaya every day for two weeks straight. This tropical fruit is typically served after dinner as it is not only sweet but also aids in digestion. The papaya is peeled and de-seeded, chopped into bite-sized chunks, and displayed with lime wedges and dainty forks. I can tell you that not once did I tire of this luscious and delectable treat.

Today, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) sent out a press release announcing that the Government of Japan will now allow commercial import of genetically modified papaya to Japan. The approved variety is called Rainbow papaya and it is grown in the state of Hawaii. Below, the USDA explains how and why Rainbow papaya was created:
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Is your breakfast cereal “natural” or “organic?” Think there is not much difference between the two? You’re not alone. Fancy marketing campaigns specifically designed to trick consumers into believing that these two terms essentially mean the same thing are in play every time you see a cereal box. But the true difference between “natural” and “organic” is huge and one organization took up the challenge of exposing this practice.

A just-released report from The Cornucopia Institute found many breakfast cereals bearing the label “natural” to be loaded with pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and ingredients processed with unnatural chemicals.  To be clear, the report was not looking at cereals such as Lucky Charms or Pops, but rather brands like Kashi, Barbara’s and Annie’s Homegrown; cereals and granola which are specifically marketed as health-conscious and “natural.” In Cereal Crimes: How “Natural” Claims Deceive Consumers and Undermine the Organic Label—A Look Down the Cereal and Granola Aisle, the analysis looked at over 45 “natural” cereal brands to determine how natural they really were. They also tested the products for the presence of GMOs. The results of the GMO tests were especially surprising. Even several brands enrolled in the Non-GMO Project contained genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.
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Pamm Larry woke up one morning to a true ah-ha moment. She realized that instead of being depressed about the ever increasing presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food supply, she could actually do something about it. This is how the Label GMOs – A 2012 Ballot Initiative Campaign was born.

The Label GMOs – A 2012 Ballot Initiative Campaign is “a grassroots movement to get an initiative that would require mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods and the factory farmed animals reared on them” in California. Pamm Larry came to Santa Barbara today to spread the word and coordinate an effort in our county. She already has teams in action in Northern California, San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles and is trying to fill in the gaps by setting up teams in the remaining counties.
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Depending on what survey you look at, anywhere from 70-96% of Americans want labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods. In the absence of such labeling, how do you know if something has GE ingredients? Chances are if it contains soy, canola oil, corn or sugar beets, it has an extremely high likelihood of being GE. What about fresh produce? The only way to know for sure is to buy certified organic produce.
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Have you seen this symbol on foods recently?
What does it mean and how is it different than certified organic products?

In 2009, 93% of soybeans, 93% of canola, 86% of corn, and 95% of sugar beets (in 2010) grown in the United States were genetically modified. Stop for a moment and absorb that information; these are staggering numbers. In the US, a certified organic crop must be grown from non-GM (genetically modified) seeds. One of the major concerns with GMOs (genetically modified organisms) is cross-contamination. When you have a soybean farm on one side of a road using GM seeds and an organic farm on the other side, you can begin to understand how organic crops can easily become contaminated.

The Non-GMO Project was started to create a set of practices for manufacturers and growers to follow to avoid GMO contamination.  The seal means that an independent third party has tested all ingredients (which grow in GM form) in a food product to ensure it falls below a 0.9% contamination level (in line with laws in the EU). According to the Non-GMO Project website:

“…what our seal means is that a product has been produced according to rigorous best practices for GMO avoidance, including testing of risk ingredients…The Non-GMO Project is the only organization offering independent verification of testing and GMO controls for products in the U.S. and Canada.”

- Answer to the question, “So what does ‘Non-GMO Project Verified’ mean?”

The label appears to be catching on. Big players in the industry are participating in the project including: Whole Food’s 365 brand, Annie’s Homegrown, Barbara’s Bakery, Bragg, Eden, Garden of Eatin, Grimmway Farms,  Kettle Foods, La Tolteca, Lundburg Family Farms, Nature’s Path, Nutiva, Organic Valley, San-J, and Yogi. All of these companies and many more are either in the process of becoming non-gmo verified are have already been verified. See full list of brands here.

While it is great for consumers to have another layer of protection under this seal, ultimately,  we deserve to have labeling of all foods that are genetically modified. If they can do it in Europe, they can do it here. When you start looking at the statistics – 93% of all corn is GM – you begin to see how much money and power is at work to prevent this from ever happening. However, even if GM labeling was required, it would not address the concern of GMO crop contamination. Having organizations and growers committed to keeping contamination at a minimum will be important for as long as GM crops exist.

We want to hear from you. Is a non-GMO seal such as this one important to you? Does it influence your buying decision?


Sources:
Non GMO Project
Food Navigator

A new research review shows that a diet of genetically modified (GM) corn and soybeans leads to organ problems in rats and mice. Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini and his research team reviewed data from 19 different animal studies with results indicating liver and kidney organ disruption as “GMO diet effects.” The kidneys were more affected in males and the liver was more specifically disrupted in females. Here is the end of the published conclusion:

“We can conclude, from the regulatory tests performed today, that it is unacceptable to submit 500 million Europeans and several billions of consumers worldwide to the new pesticide GM-derived foods or feed, this being done without more controls (if any) than the only 3-month-long toxicological tests and using only one mammalian species…”

Current industry trials limit studies to 90-days. This is shocking considering how long it may take the human body to show the effects of any diet.
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I didn’t realize I was in love until about 10 years ago. You know those relationships where you fall in love with a friend you’ve known all your life? Well, that was me and Trader Joe’s. I’d been hanging with TJ since I was a little kid. My folks knew TJ and frequented his establishment. Now, as a mom myself, I find I hang out with TJ about 90% of the time.

The reasons I love TJ:

  1. He reads ingredient labels so I don’t have to be so crazy vigilant (okay, who am I kidding, I still read ‘em)
  2. He hates partially hydrogenated oils, MSG, high fructose corn syrup and genetically modified ingredients as much as I do
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