Genetically modified fruits and vegetables, also known as “GMOs” (genetically modified organisms), are created in a laboratory environment using various genetic engineering techniques. The seeds and plants that result from this process are typically sold for both commercial and independent use. Over the years, many scientists, consumers, and environmental groups have raised health and environmental concerns over the planting, harvesting, and consumption of foods containing GMOs.
As a result of the ongoing public outcry, many people in the USA and around the globe are demanding a greater variety of non-GMO food options and clear food labeling practices that indicate whether a product contains genetically modified organisms.
How are GMOs created?
A genetically modified organism can be an animal, plant, or micro-organism (e.g. bacteria) whose genetic makeup is altered through gene splicing, genetic modification, or transgenic technology. This manipulation of genes and DNA has the potential to create combinations of animal, bacterial, plant, and viral genes that either do not or would not naturally manifest in nature through traditional crossbreeding methods. It is the unstable qualities created by these scientific manipulations, and a lack of long-term study and research on the impact such manipulations can create, that has many scientists and members of the general public concerned.
How are genetically modified foods created?
When genetically modifying plants that are used for food, scientists remove specific genes from the DNA of another organism, such as an animal, bacterium, plant, or virus and then add those genes into the DNA of the plant they want to modify. This process is sometimes referred to as gene splicing. By adding different genes, scientists hope the plant will inherit the characteristics contained within the spliced segment of DNA.
In one such example, genetic engineers added genes from a bacterium into the DNA of a variety of corn that was susceptible to certain insects. The bacterium genes that the scientists spliced into the corn’s DNA resulted in the secretion a protein that kills that specific variety of insects. This eliminated the need for traditional pesticide spraying techniques.
Sounds a little bit scary, right? We think so!
Many of the available genetically modified plant varieties are considered commodity crops. These crops are grown and harvested for processing into a wide range of frequently used ingredients. Here is a list of genetically modified crops currently approved for growing in the United States:
After harvesting, these GMO crops are manufactured into many of the common ingredients found in today’s packaged foods, such as:
Amino acid(s), alcohol, aspartame, ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, citric acid, sodium citrate, ethanol, flavoring(s), high-fructose corn syrup, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, lactic acid, maltodextrin, molasses, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sucrose, textured vegetable protein, xanthan gum, vitamins, vinegar, yeast products, and others…
Genetic modification affects many of the products we consume on a daily basis. The next time you’re at the grocery store and picking up a bottle of salad dressing, a box of cereal, or a prepared meal for lunch, take a look at the labeling. Chances are, you’ll see several of the ingredients listed above!
Because the number of GMOs available for commercial use increases every year, consumers and consumer advocacy groups need to be vigilant if they wish to avoid eating or using these products, which are known for placing humans and the environment at risk.
How Can You Avoid Genetically Modified Foods?
When purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables, try to select organic produce or buy locally grown foods from a farmers market. The best thing you can do to avoid GMOs is to reduce, as much as possible, processed foods containing the ingredients listed above. As more than 70% of processed foods contain ingredients derived from GMO commodity crops, this isn’t always an easy task. When buying packaged foods, keep your eyes open for Non-GMO Project Verified products. Their logo (above) will always be prominently displayed on the front of the packaging. These food products have been rigorously tested to ensure the ingredients used have minimized the risk of GMO contamination, and therefore giving you the strongest assurance they are non-GMO.
Did you know? Our products are Non-GMO Project Verified!
At Tommy’s Superfoods, we’re proud of our Non-GMO Project verification and committed to bringing you the healthiest and best tasting frozen vegetable medleys. If you’re concerned about the use of GMOs in food, we encourage you to visit the Non-GMOs Project lifestyle website, LivingNonGMO.org. There, you’ll find a variety of resources such as blogs and discussion groups, products and producer news, tasty recipes and more. It’s a great way to stay updated on what is happening around the country in regards to this important topic.