September 18, 2014

Genetically Modified Plants List

After watching this documentary by BBC and Fed Up we've decided to make an effort to be more careful about eating genetically modified foods.  I don't want to debate here about whether or not GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) are safe. But I did want to share my findings with you about what foods are or contain GMOs.

I researched the different foods and here are my findings on the GM plants. I'm not an expert and welcome any comments, corrections and additions.

Produce- most kinds of produce are not GMOs. For those that are, buy organic instead. (Organic food is not allowed to be grown from GM seeds.) Or move to Europe. "No genetically modified fruit or vegetables are on the market in the EU; none of the GM plants currently authorised in the EU are intended for direct consumption." (see: GMO Compass)

  • Corn- yes, it is a GMO! This is probably the big one since so many things are made from corn and added to so many foods. Plus, it is fed to many animals we eat and obtain milk and eggs from. 
  • Soy Beans- yes, it is a GMO! Even if you don't directly eat soybeans, it may surprise you all the things that are made from them and added to other foods.
  • Alfalfa- yes, it is a GMO. Not only do we eat it, but it is fed to other animals we eat and especially to dairy cows. (It makes their milk sweeter.) (see: GMO Compass)
  • Zucchini and Yellow Crookneck Squash- yes, they are GMOs. (see Huff Post)
  • Papayas- yes, it is a GMO. GM papayas were developed in Hawaii to be resistant to Papaya Ringspot Virus. I'm not sure that papayas imported from other countries would be GMOs. (see: GMO Compass)

  • Cotton- yes, it is a GMO. I include it here because it is consumed as cottonseed oil and milk. And it is also used as feed for animals. (see: GMO Compass)
  • Canola- yes, it is a GMO. It can be eaten as canola oil and also in honey. GM genes are transferred into the honey collected from the canola plants. (see: GMO Compass)
  • Sugar Beets- yes it is a GMO. This is yet another big one since most foods have sugar in them and lots of it is derived from sugar beets including granulated sugar, caramel and caramel colouring and molasses. It is also fed to animals as molasses and sugar beet pulp. (see: GMO Compass) (Sugar Beets should be differentiated from Sugar Cane which is not a GMO.)

In case you were wondering if these ones were GMOs, here's a list of ones I was suspicious of.
  • Potatoes- no GMOs currently in production. There were some GM potatoes approved for consumption, however, they are not currently being produced. (see: Canadian Biotechnology Action Network)
  • Tomatoes- no, it is not a GMO. GM tomatoes were developed and approved for human consumption, but "have disappeared from the market after peaking in 1998. They are no longer sold in stores. (see: GMO Compass)
  • Bananas- not a GMO. I had already known that bananas sold in stores do not grow in the wild; they're hybrids. And also that the banana that used to be sold in stores (the Gros Michel) was almost completely wiped out by the Panama disease and was replaced with the Cavendish which is what see in stores today. However, in researching this one, I was surprised to learn that all these bananas are clones of each other and have the exact same DNA. Also, there was work being done to devolop a vaccine banana that would cause the immune system to develop antibodies as if you'd had a vaccine. But it's not been put into production yet. (see: GMO Compass)
  • Peas- not a GMO. There was one developed and it got a lot of media attention because it was discovered to cause immune responses in mice. The project was stopped. (see: GMO Compass)

  • Rice- not currently a GMO, however GMO rice is being developed. (see: Mother Jones or Consumers Guide)
  • Wheat- not a GMO. However enzymes and additives containing GMOs are added to many types of flour. (see: Consumer's Guide)
  • Peanut- not a GMO... however, peanuts are grown in rotation with GM cotton. (see this article on Prevention about how this may affect the peanuts). Either way, most peanut butters contain other GMOs. I might consider buying organic in this case.
Animals and Animal Biproducts:
There are no GM animals in production for consumers. A GM salmon has been developed, but is not in production. However, many are fed GM alfalfa and corn. When buying animals and animal biproducts (eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.) look for organic or grass fed. Farmed fish can also be fed corn so look for wild fish.

I hope these lists are helpful. Again please feel free to help me improve it. 

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