What are some of the vegetarian favorites that  are genetically modified? Read our breakdown of surprising foods with GMO.

What is GMO?  GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism and typically refers to foods. You might be wondering what the difference is between cross breeding and genetic modification. Cross breeding is a natural process; genetic modification changes organisms DNA in a laboratory.

Foods are genetically modified is to make them resistant to insects, fungus, and disease.  GMO is also used to prevent the seeds plants naturally bear from being fertile.  The other aspect is that seeds are patented and sold under contract, preventing farmers from the sustainable practice of saving seeds. It is a strategy to control seed and therefore global food supply.

GMO has been promoted as a means of increasing food production, improving taste, improving nutrition, and ensuring more fruitful harvests. While this could be the result of GM, what has happened is that a handful of companies make big profits off their patented seeds and food prices continue to rise.

GMO food was introduced to the US in the mid-90s and has become prevalent in staples such as:

  • Soy
  • Cotton
  • Canola
  • Sugar Beets
  • Corn

It is not clear how many of the fruits and vegetables in the grocery store market are actually GMO products, but we know that many are and they do not have to be marked.

One of the biggest concerns with GMO products is that they are largely untested. The FDA GMO crops with minimal testing. We do not know the long-term implications on health or human genetics; but scientists are raising alarms. Studies have shown that it increases allergens, causes organ damage, and sterility.

Honestly, it is pretty much impossible to avoid. However, you can reduce its presence in your diet by paying attention and being knowledgeable. Here are some surprising vegetarian foods with GMO.

  • Most mainstream sodas and bottled beverages
  • Soy
  • Most commercially made breads
  • Most crackers and chips
  • Milk, eggs, butter, and cheese
  • Candy
  • Pet Food

Opt for Cane Sugar

Read the labels and you will see high fructose corn syrup on most of these foods. High fructose corn syrup is largely derived from GMO corn. Most all of the corn grown in the United States is GMO, so products derived from it are also GMO. On the sweetener note, products listed as sugar may also be GMO. Cane sugar it is most likely not GMO, though there are rumors that it is coming.

Try to Avoid Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil, as it will list on the label, is typically made from corn and/or soybean oil – both crops are mostly GMO in the US.  Soy, cotton seed, canola, and corn oils are most likely GMO.  It is less likely if the oils are certified organic – but GMO traits have been found in organic food.

Look for foods made sunflower oil, olive oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, coconut oil, or butter.

Beware Maltodextrin

This is something you often find in chips, snacks, and crackers. It is a starch derived from corn (GMO food), potatoes, and/or rice. Maltodextrin is difficult to taste, but it is one of those ingredients that makes food addictive.

Avoid maltodextrin by not buying foods that contain it. There may be a food alternative that is free of maltodextrin and probably a lot of other junk ingredients too!

Eggs and Dairy

Unless the animals are certified organic or non-GMO it is likely that your milk, eggs, and cheese were produced from animals fed GMO food.

This is a tough GMO food to avoid – really tough. The only way to ensure that you are eating non-GMO milk, eggs, and cheese is to have a farm where you grow your own food for your own animals and make the product yourselves which  may not be as easy to access most of us!

Soy Product

Unfortunately, soy is one of the largest GMO crops in the US. This is troublesome because soy is a primary source of protein for many vegans and vegetarians.  It is also processed into several additives and added to just about every processed food, the most common being soy lecithin.

To avoid GMO soy, you need to be very careful. Buying organic is a good start, but not a guarantee. Look for non-GMO certifications and pledges. Another way to buy soy is to look for imported soy. It is just the US that has embraced GMO crops. Foods imported from Europe and Asia are mostly non-GMO.

What to Do

Buy products certified as non-GMO. If that is not possible, buy organic whenever you can because they have less chance of being GMO.

Remember, we’re not trying to be “downers.” We just want to provide resources and information about your food.
It is next to impossible to eliminate GMO from your diet. We’re certainly NOT telling you what you can or cannot eat! We just ask you to be aware, conscious of the food you eat, and help spread awareness. Ask friends and family…”What is GMO?” and see what they know. By sharing, we will empower and educaten each other.

We hope that someday GMO will be proven a safe, effective, open, and delicious means of feeding the world. It certainly has potential to solve a lot of problems, but right now it is falling short of these expectations.

We’re turning over the floor over to you!  Leave us your comments and let us know what you think about GMO!
Here are some additional resources you may enjoy:

responsibletechnology.org/gmo-education
huffingtonpost.com - article about GMO
Human Genome Project – What is GMO?

Non GMO Shopping Guide

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee/ freedigitalphotos.net

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