GMO: Your Right to Know

UntitledIn March of 2013 Whole Foods Market announced they would label all products in their US and Canadian stores to indicate whether they contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

Since GMOs are so prevalent in the major food crops in our country — they’re a majority of US corn, soy, canola, cottonseed and sugar beets crops — this process will be challenging. But they are working hard and have committed to having labeling for all products by 2018. Many will be labeled ahead of this timeline, and we will be keeping consumers informed about the process. Whole Foods Market is the first national grocery chain to set a deadline for full GMO transparency. They’ve been collaborating with many of their suppliers for several years to source products without GMO ingredients. In 2009, they began putting their 365 Everyday Value line through Non-GMO Project verification and encouraged grocery suppliers to do the same.

They currently sell over 4,800 Non-GMO Project verified products from 250 brands, more than any other retailer in North America. Whole Foods is expanding efforts, working with suppliers in all categories as they transition to ingredients from non-GMO sources or clearly label products containing GMOs by the 2018 deadline.

In the meantime, here are some tips on how to eat if you’re avoiding GMOs.

11 Ways To Shop if Avoiding GMOs

1. Go organic!

The USDA National Organic Standards prohibit the use of GMOs.

2. Look for the Non-GMO Project Verified seal

Third-party verification that a product is made without the intentional use of GMO ingredients.

3. Choose 365 Everyday Value brand Food Products

All plant-derived ingredients in food products are sourced to avoid GMOs. (Note: If a product has meat, eggs or dairy ingredients, they could be from animals that were given GMO feed — unless the product is organic or Non-GMO Project Verified.)

4. Be Informed

Currently, these are the only US crops grown commercially from GMO seed: alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, Hawaiian papaya, soy, sugar beets, yellow summer “crook-neck” squash and zucchini.

5. Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

Most fresh produce is non-GMO; sweet corn, Hawaiian papaya, edamame, zucchini and yellow summer squash are the only produce items currently grown commercially from GMO seed. Whole Foods is working to provide verified non-GMO versions of these in their produce departments.

6. Consider the Additives

The five most prevalent GMO crops of corn, canola, soy, cotton and sugar beets end up as additives in all kinds of packaged foods as corn syrup, oil, sugar, flavoring agents, thickeners and other additives. Over 70% of packaged food products in North America contain GMOs. Choose organic or Non-GMO Project Verified.

7. Check the Source on Meat, Eggs and Dairy

Milk, cheese, eggs, beef, chicken and pork could all be from animals that were fed GMO feed. Choose organic or Non-GMO Project Verified.

8. Go Wild

Some farmed fish eat GMO feed. Choose wild-caught seafood or farmed oysters, mussels and clams (they aren’t given supplemental feed).

9. Feel Good About Frozen

Most frozen fruits and vegetables are non-GMO. Frozen fruits and vegetables without additives are good non-GMO choices unless from one of these five high-risk crops: sweet corn, Hawaiian papaya, edamame, zucchini and yellow summer squash. Choose organic or Non-GMO Project Verified for those five.

10. Go for Dry Grains, Beans, Nuts and Seeds

Choosing dry beans, grains, nuts and seeds is a great way to go non-GMO.

11. Drink Responsibly

All wine and beer labeled either “organic” or “made with organic” or “Non-GMO Project Verified” must use non-GMO yeast. Wine grapes and the grains used to make beer are not typically GMO.

Some GMO versions of apples and other crops are being tested but are not currently approved to be planted for commercial production. GMO versions of tomatoes and potatoes have been approved for planting, but are not currently in commercial production.

You have the right to know what’s in your food!