As the reliance on GM seeds expands worldwide, concerns about food supply and safety continue to escalate. Genetically engineered seeds are identical in structure, and if a problem affects one particular crop a major crop failure can result. For example, following the recent failure of three GMO corn crops in three South African provinces, the Africa Centre for Biosecurity has called for an investigation and immediate ban of all GMO food.
GM crops also manufacture their own pesticides, which puts further poisons into humans and soil and may cause unforeseen changes in the environment. Another concern is that toxins contained in the GMO plants may harm other organisms, such as monarch caterpillars, bees and birds. The pesticide found in genetically modified cotton and corn is implicated in the deaths of poultry, cows, horses, sheep and buffalo worldwide.
Make your own decision about GMO but we choose to recommend organic as for now, those farmers are using seeds that are not GMO and can re-seed themselves (supposedly if you harvest seeds from GMO crops, they won’t grow food the next year – you have to buy new seeds???)
High-Risk Crops (in commercial production; ingredients derived from these must be tested every time prior to use in Non-GMO Project Verified products (as of December 2011):
- Alfalfa (first planting 2011)
- Canola (approx. 90% of U.S. crop)
- Corn (approx. 88% of U.S. crop in 2011)
- Cotton (approx. 90% of U.S. crop in 2011)
- Papaya (most of Hawaiian crop; approximately 988 acres)
- Soy (approx. 94% of U.S. crop in 2011)
- Sugar Beets (approx. 95% of U.S. crop in 2010)
- Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash (approx. 25,000 acres)
ALSO high-risk: animal products (milk, meat, eggs, honey, etc.) because of contamination in feed.
Monitored Crops (those for which suspected or known incidents of contamination have occurred, and those crops which have genetically modified relatives in commercial production with which cross-pollination is possible; we test regularly to assess risk, and move to “High-Risk” category for ongoing testing if we see contamination):
- Beta vulgaris (e.g., chard, table beets)
- Brassica napa (e.g., rutabaga, Siberian kale)
- Brassica rapa (e.g., bok choy, mizuna, Chinese cabbage, turnip, rapini, tatsoi)
- Curcubita (acorn squash, delicata squash, patty pan)
Common Ingredients Derived from GMO Risk Crops
Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Ethanol, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products.
You may also be wondering about…
- Tomatoes: In 1994, genetically modified Flavr Savr tomatoes became the first commercially produced GMOs. They were brought out of production just a few years later, in 1997, due to problems with flavor and ability to hold up in shipping. There are no genetically engineered tomatoes in commercial production, and tomatoes are considered “low-risk” by the Non-GMO Project Standard.
- Potatoes: Genetically modified NewLeaf potatoes were introduced by Monsanto in 1996. Due to consumer rejection several fast-food chains and chip makers, the product was never successful and was discontinued in the spring of 2001. There are no genetically engineered potatoes in commercial production, and potatoes are considered “low-risk” by the Non-GMO Project Standard.
- Wheat: There is not currently, nor has there ever been, any genetically engineered wheat on the market. Of all “low-risk” crops, this is the one most commonly (and incorrectly) assumed to be GMO. It is a key commodity crop, and the biotech industry is pushing hard to bring GMO varieties to market. The Non-GMO Project closely watches all development on this front.
- Salmon: A company called AquaBounty is currently petitioning the FDA to approve it’s engineered variety of salmon, which has met with fierce consumer resistance.
- Pigs: A genetically engineered variety of pig, called Enviropig was developed by scientists at the University of Guelph, with research starting in 1995 and government approval sought beginning in 2009. In 2012 the University announced an end to the Enviropig program, and the pigs themselves were euthanized in June 2012.