Almost all of the food on grocery store shelves contains some genetically engineered ingredients, according to a new study by Consumer Reports.
When the magazine tested more than 80 processed foods for genetically engineered corn and soy, it found genetically modified organisms (GMO) pretty much everywhere — even in organic and natural products.
“Almost all of the samples of conventional products we tested contained GE corn and/or soy and the majority of the corn and or soy DNA in most of these samples was GE,” the report, prepared by the Consumers Union’s Food Safety and Sustainability Center, states.
The Consumers Union is the political advocacy organization associated with Consumer Reports. Corn and soy are two of the major ingredients used in processed food.
“Our recent tests here at Consumer Reports found that contrary to what many people believe, even foods with the ‘natural’ label may contain GMOs,” the center’s executive director, Urvashi Rangan, noted.
More than 70 percent of US adults say they don’t want GMO ingredients in their food, and 92 percent want it labeled, according to a Consumer Reports National Research Center survey of 1,000 Americans.
Where GMOs Are
“Nearly all of the samples we tested of the products that did not make any non-GMO-related claim on the package did, in fact, contain substantial amounts of genetically modified corn or soy,” the report said. “They included many familiar foods, such as Kellogg’s Froot Loops, General Mills Corn Chex, Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix, Doritos Oven Baked Nacho Cheese chips, and Boca Original Vegan Veggie Burgers. Four of the products in this group were soy-based infant formulas: Enfamil ProSobee Soy Infant Formula, Gerber Good Start Soy, Similac Soy Isomil, and Similac Go & Grow Soy Infant formula.”
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Some of the other disturbing highlights from the report include:
- Virtually “all samples of products with a natural label (in the absence of an organic or non-GMO claim) had comparable levels of GE corn or soy as their conventional (or unlabeled) counterparts.” The report further said: “Consumers who want to avoid GE ingredients should not rely on products labeled ‘natural’ to avoid GMOs. This label is highly confusing and generally misleading for consumers and Consumer Reports is asking the government to ban its use on food.”
- Baby formula was full of GMOs. “Samples of soy-based infant formulas, like other products we tested, contained mostly GMO soy unless they carried the organic and Non-GMO label, in which case GMO content was minimal … Consumers looking for soy formula without GMO ingredients should look for USDA Organic or Non-GMO Project Verified seals.”
- The non-GMO claim on food is only meaningful when it has been verified by organizations such as the Non-GMO Project, although trace amounts of GMO corn and grain were found in even some certified Non-GMO products. Incredibly, one brand of corn chips (Xochitl) labeled non-GMO was made of 75 percent GMO corn. Its “non-GMO” claim was unsubstantiated, and it did not carry a Non-GMO Project label.
Consumer Reports Supports Labeling Of GMO Foods
The Consumers Union supports the labeling of genetically engineered food. In particular, the organization is backing Measure 92, an Oregon ballot initiative that would require that food labels disclose the presence of GMO ingredients.
“We strongly endorse Measure 92,” Michael Hanson, Consumers Union’s senior scientist said. “Sixty-four countries require labeling genetically engineered food. Labeling didn’t increase food costs in those countries and wouldn’t increase food costs here.”
Consumers Union has not weighed in on Proposition 105, a Colorado ballot initiative requiring GMO labeling. Prop 105 has generated quite a bit of controversy because some critics claim that many products containing GMOs would be exempt from it.
How to Keep GMOs Off Your Family Table
Consumers looking to avoid GMOs entirely should steer clear of processed foods, and also look for the Non-GMO Project and USDA Certified Organic labels. Less than one percent (around .9%) of the corn and soy in those labeled products tested positive for GMOs, the Consumers Union found.
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