As some of our readers may know, this October is the third annual National Non-GMO Month. In the spirit of promoting awareness around GMOs we wanted to dive head first into the controversial subject. With the rise in the non-GMO movement, more individuals are choosing to move away from highly processed foods and are opting for natural and healthier choices. While searching for organic food online, it's hard not to notice that many foods are now labeled as GMO-free
, or at least attempt to warn shoppers about the risks associated with GMO foods.
So, What Does GMO Even Mean?
Genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) contain altered genetic material. In the food world, GMOs are generally developed to create edible plants that have better yields, are resistance to drought, or have tastier fruit. The large majority of commodity crops grown in the U.S., such as corn, wheat and soy, are genetically-modified, and the vast majority of processed foods today contain some derivative of these ingredients. Additionally, in recent years GMO fruits and vegetables have become more common.
Since GMO foods are genetically altered in a lab and are not considered “natural,” their nutritional value is difficult to determine. Scientists have alleged that there is a link between genetically engineered foods and disorders of the immune and inflammatory system. It may also be the cause of the increase in food allergies among the general population in recent years.
GMO-Free or Organic?
The label “GMO-free” or “Non-GMO” on a food package is not actually a regulated term, similar to the term “all-natural.” As a rule of thumb, all organic products do not contain any GMOs. So, if you want to be sure you are 100% avoiding GMOs in the products you buy, you need to look for either the”Non-GMO Project Verified” seal, or “USDA Certified Organic” on the label.
The Non-GMO Project Verified seal on a product it indicates that the product is compliant with the Non-GMO Project’s Standard
– a transparent document requiring producers to meet strict requirements for GMO testing, segregation, and traceability. If food is not labeled organic or Non-GMO, a shopper should verify if the most prevalent GMO crops are listed as food ingredients, including corn, soybeans, canola, cottonseed, and sugar beets.