SLIDESHOW: The Top GMO Crops to Avoid
Discover the genetically modified crops that are in many foods.
The most direct way to avoid GMOs is to eat only organic food, which by law must not contain any genetically modified crops. The problem? Eating organic all the time isn’t exactly realistic for most of us, nor is it — let’s be honest here — easy on the old wallet. Another good way to avoid GMOs, notes Jeffrey Smith, author of Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods (Yes! Books, 2007), is to stay away from the four major GM crops — soy, corn, cotton and canola — as well as their many derivatives (unless, of course, they say “organic” or “non-GMO”). Here’s why:
Genetically modified corn contains the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin, which is designed to kill insects by breaking open their stomachs. Monsanto claimed that the Bt toxin would pose no problems for people because the human digestive tract could destroy it. However, a 2011 study of pregnant women in Quebec found Monsanto’s Bt toxin in the blood of 93 percent of the women, as well as 80 percent of their babies.
The active ingredient in the widely used Roundup Ready soybean is glyphosate, which disrupts the endocrine system and, in turn, negatively affects our moods, metabolism and sexual functioning. Bonus fact: British researchers found a 50 percent jump in soy allergies after the introduction of GMO-soy into the country’s food chain.
Yes, we know you don’t eat cotton, but if you eat processed foods of any kind, you have probably consumed a fair bit of cottonseed oil, which is extracted from the seeds of the cotton plant. And, remember that nasty, potentially gut-destroying Bt toxin found in genetically modified corn? It’s found in GM cotton as well.
In spite of the health halo surrounding canola oil, 90 percent of the crops used to make canola are genetically modified. In other words, you might be cooking with a vibrant, healthy array of whole foods, but if you are using canola oil, chances are you are consuming GMOs. Opt for extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil instead.