GMOs: simple ways to avoid them in your diet

This article was originally published in October 2012

There are many reasons to choose foods without genetically modified organisms (GMOs) — from the risks they pose to the environment to concern about their effects on consumer health. Despite industry claims, there is not a single commercial GMO crop with increased yield, drought-tolerance or enhanced nutrition.

Unlike many countries around the world, the U.S. does not require labeling of foods containing GMOs. That’s troubling when you consider an estimated 60 to 70 percent of packaged food in mainstream grocery stores contain them. Assume a packaged food has GMOs unless it’s clearly labeled otherwise.


Choose organic

This is the best way to assure your food is GMO-free. Genetic engineering (GE) is a prohibited method of production in organics, so foods labeled “certified organic” or “made with organic ingredients” cannot contain GE ingredients intentionally.


Eat fresh produce

Most fresh produce — with the exception of sweet corn, Hawaiian papaya and a small amount of squash — is NOT genetically engineered. So, eating fruits and vegetables is a good way to avoid GMOs and eat a more nutritious diet!


Look for the Non-GMO seal

The Non-GMO Project is the first independent, third-party certifier to establish Best Practices and testing throughout the supply chain to ensure non-GMO claims. Look for the Project’s butterfly seal on food packages and clearly labeled on the shelf at PCC.


Beware of risky ingredients


Unless a product is organic or specifically lists “pure cane sugar” or “dehydrated cane juice,” it may contain sugar from GE sugar beets.

Milk and dairy

Dairy cattle often feed on alfalfa hay, which can be genetically engineered. So, non-organic dairy is likely to contain GMOs. Cows that produce non-organic milk also may be treated with a GE growth hormone called rBGH. No dairy at PCC comes from cows treated with rBGH.


Avoid canola or cottonseed oils unless they’re organic or non-GMO.


Unless certified organic, these corn-based ingredients are likely to be GMO: corn oil, corn starch, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, food starch/modified food starch, sorbitol, malt, dextrin, mono- and diglycerides, baking powder (try the corn-free “Featherweight” brand at PCC), confectioners sugar (PCC sells organic), monosodium glutamate, and vitamins that do not state “corn-free.”


Unless certified organic, these soy foods are likely to be GMO: miso, soy sauce/tamari/shoyu, teriyaki marinades, soy milk, tempeh, textured vegetable protein, soy protein isolate, lecithin and soy lecithin. Be aware that pastry, margarine, mayonnaise and salad dressings may include lecithin.



Sign the petition at any PCC store to get I-522 for labeling GMO foods on the state ballot in November 2013. (We need 241,000 signatures of registered Washington voters by January to make this happen.) Learn more »

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