Sunday, April 29, 2007

The perilous trip to the market

Did you know that over 60% of grocery store offerings contain genetically modified ingredients?

Did you know there was a farmer in Nebraska that gave his cows the option of eating GMO corn or regular corn? The cows wouldn't eat the GMO corn. Also see this report on a study done by Russian scientists about feeding GMO feed to animals. It has a negative impact.

Did you know the two biggest GMO products are soy or corn based?

I went to the FDA's site and found this published report from 2000:

The following processed foods tested positive for being genetically modified (September 1999). The tests were not "safety tests;" they were only to establish the presence of unlabeled genetically modified ingredients.

* Frito-Lay Corn Chips
* Bravo's Tortilla Chips
* Kellogg's Corn Flakes
* General Mills Total Corn Flakes Cereal
* Post Blueberry Morning Cereal
* Heinz 2 Baby Food
* Enfamil ProSobee Soy Formula
* Similac Isomil Soy Formula
* Nestle Carnation Alsoy Infant Formula
* Quaker Chewy Granola Bars
* Nabisco Snackwell's Granola Bars
* Ball Park Franks
* Duncan Hines Cake Mix
* Quick Loaf Bread Mix
* Ultra Slim Fast
* Quaker Yellow Corn Meal
* Light Life Gimme Lean
* Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix
* Alpo Dry Pet Food
* Gardenburger
* Boca Burger Chef Max's Favorite
* Morning Star Farms Better'n Burgers
* Green Giant Harvest Burgers (now called Morningstar Farms)
* McDonald's McVeggie Burgers
* Ovaltine Malt Powdered Beverage Mix
* Betty Crocker Bac-O's Bacon Flavor Bits
* Old El Paso Taco Shells
* Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix

Additionally, the following whole foods have been genetically engineered and approved for commercial sales:

* Canola Oil
* Chicory, red hearted (Radicchio)
* Corn
* Cotton
* Papaya
* Potato
* Soybean
* Squash
* Tomato

Source: Union of Concerned Scientists

Handout 1: List of Possible Genetically Engineered Products

Example 1: Cake Mix

* A familiar and popular brand of cake mix
* Sold in supermarkets
* Used for many years by a broad mix of consumers
* Traditional ingredients, such as flour, that is now being made from wheat that has been genetically modified to tolerate a commercial herbicide.
* The genetically modified wheat makes it easier for farmers to control weeds, and thereby increase crop yields and lower consumer prices.

Example 2: Corn Oil

* A familiar and popular brand of cooking oil
* Sold in supermarkets
* Used for many years by a broad mix of consumers
* Made from corn that has been genetically modified to resist insect pests.
* Process that extracts the oil from the corn, which involves heat, destroys the corn's DNA so there is no DNA in the cooking oil.
* There is no way to tell whether the oil was made from genetically engineered corn or conventional corn.

Example 3: Canola Oil

* A new brand of cooking oil
* Sold in supermarkets
* Has a claims that it contains more lauric acid, an unsaturated fatty acid that is less likely to raise cholesterol, than other canola oils.
* It has more lauric acid because it is derived from genetically engineered plants.
* There is no protein or residual DNA in the cooking oil, but because it is nutritionally different from other canola oils, it must state on the label that it is "high lauric acid canola oil"

Example 4: Flavr SavrTM Tomato

* New strain of tomatoes produced by genetic engineering
* Sold in the fresh produce section of the supermarket
* The genetic engineering inactivates an existing gene in tomatoes that makes them go bad after they ripen.
* These tomatoes can stay in the field to ripen longer before they are picked. They also stay fresh longer on the grocery shelf than other tomatoes.

Example 5: Vitamin A rice

* New strain of rice produced by genetic engineering
* Sold as a household staple and intended to be a significant part of the diet
* The genetic engineering takes a gene that produces Vitamin A from a harmless strain of bacteria and puts this Vitamin A gene into rice.
* The resulting rice can be a significant dietary source of Vitamin A and has the potential to reduce Vitamin A deficiencies cheaply and effectively.
* Vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of blindness, mental retardation and other diseases.

Example 6: Genetically modified salmon

* New strain of farm-raised salmon
* Sold in fresh fish counters of supermarkets, public fish markets and to restaurants
* Salmon engineered to grow faster to reach market size at an earlier age
* Modified a gene that regulates growth hormone levels. When it is sold, the salmon does not contain higher than usual levels of growth hormone in the meat.

It is now more important than ever that you read labels and commit to memory the list above to avoid eating experimental foods. I am not saying that they will harm you, however, if they are not good for animals, how good are they for you?

The FDA does not require labeling of GMO foods for consumers unless they pose a health risk. Everywhere else in the world GMO ingredients must be labeled. Is Monsanto in charge of the FDA? We need to be able to determine for ourselves if we want to consume experimental foods. If they are not disclosed on a label, how can we know for certain what we are eating? When you begin reading labels, you will notice some companies have elected to tell you that the ingredients they are using are non-GMO ingredients. We need to convince the FDA that the lebeling is necessary on all food.