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June 18, 2018  |  Login
Recognizing Genetically Modified Products
By Yvonne Jeffery, Liz Barclay & Michael Grosvenor

Because of concerns about foods that contain genetically modified ingredients, GM food has become a major consumer concern in Europe, to the point where any foods that contain GM products as ingredients must be labeled as such. For the most part, European consumers avoid GM-labeled foods, so producers simply aren't growing crops or raising animals that have been genetically modified.

In the United States, however, the issue hasn't captured consumers in the same way. GM crops are common in the United States, and no labeling is required; in fact, it's estimated that upwards of 70 percent of foods in U.S. supermarkets contain some element of genetic engineering. You most likely are eating GM ingredients in your food without even realizing it.

The best way to find out whether your food choices contain genetically engineered ingredients is to choose local options so that you can talk to the producers and find out from them exactly what went into the food. If you can't do that, then try talking to the managers or owners of local grocery stores - they may not be able to tell you about production methods, but the fact that you asked them may help to convince them that they should pay more attention to this issue.

If you can't buy the groceries you need from your community, try contacting food manufacturers directly. Their Web sites often contain information about production methods and a consumer telephone or e-mail hotline for questions. If companies aren't able to categorically deny that they use GM ingredients, chances are good that they use these products.

Some of the foods and ingredients currently subject to genetic modification for reasons such as increasing yield or pest resistance include:

  • Soybeans: Soy is one of the main sources of genetically modified ingredients in food and can be found in everything from chocolate to potato chips, margarine to mayonnaise, and biscuits to bread.

  • Canola: Canola oil comes from certain types of canola plants. GM canola may be used for oils in making potato chips and animal feed.

  • Corn: GM corn is used as cattle feed but also is used in all sorts of packaged food, such as breakfast cereal, bread, corn chips, and gravy mixes.

  • Wheat: GM wheat has been developed, but its implementation in North America so far has been successfully opposed.

  • Milk: Cows may be injected with a genetically engineered growth hormone to increase milk production.



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