GMO's: So what's the big deal?Most of us have heeded the warnings about high fructose corn syrup (HCFS) and trans fats. How about warnings related to genetically modified organisms (GMOs)? Are you as vigilant about avoiding them?

Very quickly, GMOs have become a ubiquitous part of our food supply, and are found in nearly 75% of the processed foods on our supermarket shelves. How has this genetically altered byproduct infiltrated such a large portion of our food supply? Because a large majority of our farmland the past few decades has transitioned to grow three major crops: corn, soy, and canola. For example, 92 percent of all soy grown is genetically modified, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If you think you do not consume any of these soybeans because you do not consume tofu and soymilk- think again! Soybean oil, soy protein isolate, soy lecithin, etc, are common ingredients in processed foods. If it comes in a box, package, or wrapper, it likely contains an ingredient derived from soy. Even products you think of as healthy contain these harmful ingredients, such as protein bars, dark chocolate, and multigrain crackers. Since these crops are also fed to our animals, even meat is not free of them.

All of Europe, England, Australia, Japan and Russia require food containing GMOs to be labeled accordingly. In response to consumer outcries in these countries, large companies such as Kraft, Walmart, and Coca Cola have redesigned their products to either remove GMOs from them or label them appropriately. Consumers can then make their own decisions about whether to include these new substances into their family’s diet or noT. For a myriad of political reasons, here in the United States we are not given that choice. Instead, you must be extremely pro-active if you would like to minimize GMOs in your diet.

So why should you avoid GMOs? First, most of the objection about GMOs is that they are an uncontrolled human experiment. Only one study has been conducted on humans rather than animals. The results showed that parts of the altered gene in GMO soy had been transferred into the DNA of the bacteria in the digestive system (U.S. National Academy of Sciences 2004). Secondly, results from animal studies are even less promising. Until U.S. consumers get more vocal about GMOs, what can you do?

Tips for minimizing GMOs in your diet:

* Stick to organic food as much as possible; even fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables can be coated in a corn-based wax to make them look prettier and withstand long travel distances.

* Look for corn, soy, and canola listed in the ingredient list; assume they are genetically modified unless it is a 100% organic product.

* Start small. What do you or your family consumer a lot of? Cereal? Crackers? Milk? Look for a non-GMO alternative of your favorite brand by shopping organic.

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