Q: Should we avoid consuming genetically modified (GM) foods?
A: GM food is a really hot topic right now and unfortunately, one that not too many people are aware of. A GM food has been manipulated through genetic engineering by introducing changes into its DNA structure by either removing certain genes or adding foreign genes in. Reasons for manipulating DNA include faster product growth, resistance to pathogens and production of extra nutrients. Most recently, scientists are formulating a hypo-allergenic apple. They are working to find alternative hypo-allergenic proteins that exist naturally in other plants and swap them in for the irritation-causing proteins in apples.
There are quite a few studies cropping up (no pun intended) showing the negative consequences of consuming GM foods-food allergies, antibiotic resistance and reproductive abnormalities to name a few. For example, even if scientists remove the main proteins in the apple that cause allergic reactions, consumers could have allergic reactions to the replacement protein. In theory, there is no such thing as a “hypo-allergenic” apple. As consumers, we are mostly unaware if we are eating GM food or not. Whole Foods Market is a pioneer in GM labeling, announcing that by 2018, all products in U.S. and Canada stores must be labeled if they contain food that has been genetically modified. Hopefully, this trend catches on.
If you want to avoid having GM foods in your diet, here are some tips on how you can avoid their consumption:
1. Become familiar with the most common products of genetic modification: soybeans, corn and its derivatives, rapeseed/canola oil, cottonseed oil, dairy, cheese, livestock, sugar and baked goods.
2. Buy food labeled 100% organic. Even if something says "organic,” it can still contain up to 30% GM, so be sure the labels say 100% organic.
3. Purchase beef that is 100% grass-fed. Most cattle in the U.S. are grass-fed, but spend the last portion of their lives in feedlots where they may be given GM corn.
4. Seek products that are specifically labeled as non-GM or GMO-free.
5. Shop locally. Most GM food comes from large, industrial farms.
6. Buy whole foods. Avoid any processed or pre-prepared foods.
7. Grow your own food. This way you know exactly what was grown and what went into growing it.