1. Avoid “At Risk” Ingredients
The most common genetically modified crops are Soy (91%), Canola (88%), Corn (85%), Cotton (71%), Sugar Beets (90%), and Hawaiian papaya (more than 50%).
In general, avoid foods with ingredients derived from corn or soybeans. Fortunately, there is no GM popcorn or blue or white corn.
2. Avoid Processed Foods
This is the most reliable way to prevent purchasing GM foods, as most processed foods have GMO ingredients in them. Processed foods using products made from corn and soybeans contain the most GM ingredients.
3. Buy Organic
Organic foods can be labeled in three different ways
1) “100% organic”—all ingredients are organic.
2) “organic”—at least 95% of ingredients are organic. The remaining 5% has to be non-GMO.
3) “made with organic (name of ingredient)”—70% of ingredients are organic. The remaining 30% has to be non-GMO.
A helpful resource is What is Organic.
4. Look for “Non-GMO” Labels
Companies may voluntarily choose to label their products as “non-GMO”.
Some labels are non specific and just state “non-GMO” while others are more specific and spell out “made without genetically modified ingredients”.
Some products may specify a particular “At Risk” ingredient and list it as “non-GMO”.
5. Use Shopping Guides
6. Avoid Factory Farmed Animal Products
Most factory farmed animals and fish are fed GM feed. Buy “organic,” “wild caught” fish, or meat and dairy from 100% grass-fed animals. Do not buy dairy products from cows injected with GM bovine growth hormone (rbGH or rbST).
Visit The Institute for Responsible Technology for brands.
7. Avoid the Sweetener Aspartame
Also called Nutrasweet® and Equal®, it is a GMO derivative found in over 6,000 products, including soft drinks, gum, candy, desserts, mixes, yogurt, tabletop sweeteners, and some pharmaceuticals, such as vitamins and sugar-free cough drops.
8. When Eating in Restaurants…
Try to go to restaurants that prepare foods from fresh, whole ingredients rather than from packaged processed mixes, which more than likely contain GM ingredients. Try to find out with what kind of oil the restaurant cooks. Many cook with vegetable oil, which is usually made from GM soy, corn, cottonseed, and canola. If that is the case, ask if your food can be prepared without oil or if a non-GMO oil like olive, sunflower, or safflower can be used instead. Make sure the olive oil is not blended with canola oil, which is common in restaurants.
If you are not sure which items on the menu are GM, ask your server or the chef. GM foods may include salad dressings, bread, mayonnaise, and sugar from GM sugar beets. In addition, when ordering a dairy item, find out if the dairy is organic or rbGH free. Bottom line, don’t be shy to ask questions!
*These have been adapted from a few sources, mainly The Institute for Responsible Technology.
Dr. Frank Lipman is an acclaimed Integrative Physician and the founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City. For over 20 years his personal brand of healing has helped thousands of people reclaim their vitality and recover their zest for life. Focused on sustainable wellness—instead of quick fixes—he offers patients a customized blend of Western medicine with acupuncture, nutritional counseling, vitamins and herbs, relaxation techniques, physical therapy, and bodywork. In 2010 he developed Be Well by Dr. Frank Lipman, a line of leading-edge supplements and health programs. He is the author of Revive: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again and Total Renewal: 7 Key Steps to Resilience, Vitality and Long-Term Health.
*Photo by AndiH.