How to Identify GMOs

Learning to differentiate between non-GMO products and GMO products is essential if you want to be sure to keep your family healthy. It can be tricky due to the lack of labeling requirements, but it’s not impossible. You do have some power here.

First, understand and know the main GM crops. Unless they are labeled specifically USDA Certified Organic, don’t buy these if you want to avoid GMO products:

* Sugar beets
* Soy
* Corn
* Cotton
* Canola
* Papaya
* Zucchini
* Yellow summer squash
* Alfalfa

Many livestock are being fed these crops and by-products from these crops, so be careful when purchasing:

* Cow’s milk
* Cheese
* Farmed fish
* Chicken
* Beef
* Pork
* Lamb

Most processed foods, over 80 percent in fact, contain GMO products and by-products. That includes canned beans, canned veggies, crackers, cereals, baked goods and more. The only way to ensure that you don’t eat GMO products is to only purchase USDA Certified Organic or Non-GMO Project Verified products.

A product label should say that it is 100 percent organic, otherwise it can still contain up to 30 percent GMO products. There are also other labeling entities and third parties that can be trusted, such as Agribusiness Association of Iowa (AAI), Oregon Tilth, a non-profit research firm that offers Oregon Tilth Certified Organic labeling, and California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) certification – all of which are more stringent than the USDA certification.

Since this labeling is voluntary it can be very difficult find, although it is getting easier as farmers recognize the importance of earning such a designation. Whole Foods, Earth Fare and other markets are starting to cater to those who do not want to purchase GMO products, and companies are starting to take notice too and offer non-GMO products. These labels help you to differentiate products better.

Remember that “free range”, “natural”, “cage free”, “grass fed” and all the other designations do not make a product GMO free. Only the 100 percent organic labeling can ensure that, and remember that the Non-GMO Project Verified designation only claims that no intentional use of GMO products were used. Probably the same can be said for Organic labeling due to the fact that cross-pollination issues have occurred with GMO crops. It can be difficult to prevent a takeover.

Learn the codes of the produce you buy. Each item has coding on it, either a four-digit number or a five-digit number. If it’s four digits it’s been conventionally produced and may or may not be GMO. If it has a five-digit number that begins with an 8, it is genetically modified. Five-digit numbers beginning with a 9 means that it’s organic. You have to be careful with these numbers as using the 8 is totally optional. A agribusiness does not have to tell you if their products are GMO or not.

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