Today, most foods we consume contain GMOs — short for genetically modified organisms. Scientists have long debated the pros and cons of GMOs, which are crops that have undergone DNA manipulation, but holistic health experts note there are ways to avoid them.
According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, 70-80 percent of the foods we eat contain GMO ingredients.
The Flavr Savr tomato, developed in 1996, became the first commercially approved genetically modified product.
Today, more than 90 percent of all soybean and corn acreage is devoted to GMOs. Sugar beets, alfalfa, canola, papaya, and summer squash are also popular, along with genetically modified versions of apples, and potatoes.
The food industry contends that GMO foods are more durable, nutritious, and pesticide resistant than those conventionally grown.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates GMOs in conjunction with the Agriculture Department, says these foods are safe as long as they meet the same requirements as those grown or produced conventionally.
“Credible evidence has demonstrated that foods from the (GMO) plant varieties marketed to date are as safe as comparable, (non-GMO) foods),” the FDA says, in a statement on its website.
Among the GMO opponents is David Friedman, a naturopathic doctor and author of the new book “Food Sanity: How to Eat in a World of Fads and Fiction.”
“When you are eating processed and plant-based foods, you should avoid anything that is genetically modified,” he tells Newsmax Health.
Although Friedman acknowledges there is no evidence tying GMOs to human health problems, he points to studies over the past several years that have found differences in various organs and systems in mice and rats fed GMOs, although the significance of such changes varied.
The lack of labeling has also been an issue.
The European Union, as well as 64 countries worldwide, requires products containing GMOs to be labeled.
A new U.S. law, passed in 2016, will require labeling on all foods to indicate whether or not they contain GMOs.
The Agriculture Department has two years to write up the rules.
“I think this is a very positive step into the right direction,” says Friedman.
Here are 10 recommendations from Friedman’s book on how to avoid purchasing foods containing GMOs:
Buy locally. It’s less likely that the food you buy from a farmer’s market will contain GMOs than from a large commercial farm or at the supermarket.
Choose organic. Avoid all processed foods containing corn or soy that lack the “USDA-Certified Organic” label.
Avoid processed vegetable products. Vegetable oil, vegetable fat, and margarines are made with GMO soy, corn, cottonseed and/or canola oil. Instead, use organic sources of grape seed, hemp seed, olive, and virgin coconut oil.
Steer clear of soybeans. Avoid soy flour, soy protein, soy isolates, soy isoflavones, soy lecithin, vegetable proteins, textured vegetable protein (TVP), tofu, tamari, tempeh, and soy-protein supplements.
Be careful of corn-derived ingredients. Don’t purchase corn flour, cornstarch, corn syrup, cornmeal, corn gluten, corn masa, and high-fructose corn syrup. (HFCS). Make sure the popcorn you use is labeled “100 percent USDA-Certified Organic.”
Choose sugar wisely. Don’t use products that list sugar, as an ingredient unless “pure cane sugar” is specified. Sugar is almost always a combination of sugar from sugar cane and GMO sugar beets.
Avoid the sweetener aspartame. This artificial sweetener is made from a GMO and is used in products such as NutraSweet and Equal.
Read juice labels. Make sure the fruit juice you by is labeled “100 percent juice.” Most fruit juices, apart from papaya, are not GMO foods, but the sweetener in many juices and sodas is high fructose corn syrup, which is almost always derived from GMO corn.
Eat whole grains. Choose 100 percent whole wheat (including whole-wheat couscous), rice, quinoa, oats, barley, and sorghum. Skip the corn.
Look for PLU labels. PLU (price look up) labeling is optional, but the code designates how produce was grown. A four-digit label indicates it was conventionally grown. A five-digit number beginning with an 8 indicates it is a GMO, and a five digit number beginning with 9 indicates it is organic. But remember that PLU labeling is optional.
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