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Worried about "Frankenstein" foods? GMO-avoiders should be on the lookout for these perpetrators
Figuring out exactly what you’re eating is trickier than ever thanks to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) found in our food.
On the one hand, we are told foods like sugar beat, corn, soy and canola (in Canada) have gone through 7-10 years of scientific testing to prove their safety and therefore shouldn’t need special labels (though voluntary labels are just fine). But advocates of labelling say consumers should have the right to make their own choices.
Organic foods are GMO free and locally grown foods from small farmers are likely GMO free. And food imported from much of Europe is GMO free – or labelled as such.
In Canada, labelling laws are voluntary, but if an item says it’s GMO free, it is. Without a label, you just can’t know for sure.
Until all labels provide GMO information, figuring out which foods are GMO-heavy is a bit of a guessing game. The following list should help you navigate the food aisles.
Pass on the papaya. Eighty per cent of Hawaiian papaya is genetically engineered to withstand the ringspot virus, which was decimating the Hawaiian crop. Check your fruit juice too; if it contains papaya juice it may be GMO.
Zucchini from Canada is GMO free, but some US zucchini varieties – yellow crookneck and straightneck squash – are not.
Eighty-five per cent of US corn is GMO. Skip (or buy organic) cornflakes, corn chips, corn starch, corn oil, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, glucose and fructose.
And don’t forget that much of the corn produced in the US goes to feed cows and chickens, which means the meat, milk, and dairy coming from those animals also carries the same potential concerns.
Canola (also known as rapeseed) is also almost always GMO, so avoid frying your dinner in it and also look for it in the ingredients list of processed food. The canola blossom is a major source of nectar for honeybees, and the neonicotinoids found in the GMO plant has been implicated in the decline of the bee population.
Soy is another ‘it’s everywhere’ food. You’ll want to look for GMO-free tofu and soy beverages, but it can also be hidden in protein drinks, processed foods, and meat and dairy.
Not to be confused with beet root, sugar beet is a conical white root that about 50% of US sugar comes from (compared to sugar cane). Estimates say GMO sugar beet makes up 95% of the sugar beet crop in the US. The problem with finding this one on the ingredient list is that anything that contains sugar is suspect. If you’re buying raw sugar, opt for cane sugar.