Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The EWG's Factory Four -- can you spot the GMOs?

On Monday, I wrote about the EWG's Watch List -- Foods that could be genetically engineered. Today, I want to share their list of the most common GE ingredients in food. Look out. Here are the EWG's Factory Four:
  • Field corn and corn-derived ingredients. My main problem with this one is -- it seems like corn or corn-derived ingredients are in nearly everything! And in the U.S., where 90% of the corn grown is genetically engineered, it's just plain scary. Since we're the world's largest corn producer and many countries reject any GMO corn, what chances do we have in this country of not being exposed to the genetically modified corn in our food? Last year, corn was the biggest crop for American farmers (according to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture), with most of it being field corn which is used in animal feed. But nearly 12% is processed to 
    • corn flour
    • high fructose corn syrup
    • corn starch
    • masa
    • corn meal
    • corn oil
If any of the above ingredients is listed in the food you eat, unless it's organic, assume you are consuming GMOs.

  • Soybeans and soybean-derived ingredients. Recently, my husband switched from taking lecithin capsules (which he's taken for decades) to eating lecithin granules. Why? Because it was the only lecithin he could find listed as non-GMO. According to the EWG's report, soybeans are the second most planted American crop, covering more than 76 million acres last year. Of those grown, 93% are genetically engineered. Soybean-based products and soybean-derived ingredients are ridiculously common on the shelves of every supermarket. If the following ingredients are listed, assume they are genetically modified, unless they are certified organic or GMO/GE-free:
    • soy proteins
    • soybean oil
    • soy milk
    • soy flour
    • soy sauce
    • tofu
    • soy lecithin
 Keep that in mind when feeding your infant soy formula. If it's not organic, it's swimming with genetically modified organisms. Yuck!!!

  • Sugar. Yes, sugar. Did you know that 55% of U.S. grown sugar is extracted from sugar beets? Well, it is. And 95% of the sugar beets are genetically modified. If the sugar is not listed as "pure cane" sugar, chances are high that the product contains GE beet sugar. Thank you, FDA.
  • Vegetable oils. Okay, get ready to assume, at all times, that the following oils are made from GMOs, because in the majority of cases, they are:
    • vegetable oil
    • canola oil
    • cottonseed oil
    • soybean oil
    • corn oil
Approximately 90% of American oilseed production is soybeans, which I already mentioned are almost entirely genetically engineered. What about the other 10%? Good question. Those crops include
    • cottonseed
    • sunflower seed
    • canola
    • rapeseed
    • peanut
Again, according to the EWG, canola and cottonseed oil are mostly from GE varieties and over 90% of corn oil is derived from GMO corn.

Scare tactics? No, simply facts. Grocery shopping is becoming more and more difficult. It's frustrating, at times overwhelming, expensive, and depressing. I, for one, have been known to break down in tears in the middle of the store on more than one occasion.

Listen, moms and dads, I know how tempting it is to simply bury your heads in the sand. But the "what we don't know won't hurt us" mentality doesn't cut it here when it comes to safely feeding your family. Hate me if you want to, but I feel an obligation to inform.

Take it for what it's worth. I do it because I care.


  1. I just started buying avocado oil as a replacement for canola. It has a higher temperature tolerance, has a neutral taste, and is relatively affordable. The non-GMO organic stuff that I got at Costco was about $6 (on sale) for a 1L jar. I love getting Organic corn from Costco, too. Same price as regular chemical corn from the grocery store. I generally stay away from soy as much as possible, so that's not a big deal.

    Sugar is the one that I don't think about at all. I bake so much for others that I just don't know if I want to afford the more expensive stuff. I'll have to keep an eye out for good deals on it now.

    1. Costco is a bit inconvenient for us, but we've been debating joining. I think you just pushed me over the fence. Thanks.


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