By Catherine L. Kaufman
ContributorWhen Dr. Frankenstein meets Old MacDonald you get G.M.O.s (genetically modified organisms) or G.E.F.s (genetically engineered foods). The nonprofit Non-G.M.O. Project has partnered with 600 natural food retailers throughout the land (including Whole Foods and Jimbo’s) to designate October, harvest month, to encouraging consumers to avoid foods that contain genetically modified products.
What exactly are G.M.O.s or G.E.F.s?
The difference between hybridization, which has been going on since the dawn of agriculture, and G.M.O.’s is that the former mates two breeds or cultivars within a single species or the same family or genus, (like a tangelo, a citrus cross of a tangerine and a pomelo or grapefruit), while the latter involves cross species’ combinations such as, crossing a soybean plant with an herbicide or pesticide to make the plant resistant to insects, or a peach crossed with a gene from a cold-water fish to make it frost-resistant.
So hybridization, which also occurs naturally as plants occasionally cross-pollinate, should not be confused with genetically engineered food that gives rise to novel genes.
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, renowned natural health physician, “tampering with DNA is never a good idea. The process of creating genetically modified organisms can cause all sorts of side effects … G.M.O.’s can be engineered with genes from animals, bacteria, viruses, or even humans. This is what makes GM food potentially dangerous to your health. They can be allergenic, carcinogenic, and toxic.”
The Big C’s
Corn, canola and cottonseed are three big G.M.O. crops. These are hard to avoid since they are ubiquitous in thousands of products and derivatives from corn flour, corn syrup, salad dressings and infant formulas, to crackers, cookies, soaps and detergents. Standing advice: Buy organic. And when using oil, choose extra virgin olive oil to replace cottonseed, corn and canola.
The Soy Ploy
Genetically modified soy comprises the majority of soybeans planted in this country, and is found in 70 percent of all food items in U.S. supermarkets. G.M. soy has been linked to widespread allergies, so read your labels and be mindful of soy products like soy oil, textured soy protein and soy flour, and derivatives such as tofu dogs and protein powders. Once again, try to seek out certified organic.
Don’t take it with a big grain of salt
Choose sea salt or kosher salt over iodized salt. Since salt crystals and iodine don’t marry well manufacturers sometimes use cornstarch in the mix to facilitate cohesion.
Scientists are now tinkering with animal life for human consumption. Atlantic salmon is being genetically modified with DNA combinations from an eel-like species to breed a giant salmon that will mature fully in 18 months instead of the normal 3-year period. This fishy fish could possibly be in supermarkets within a year.
Non-G.M.O friendly nations
Big companies in European and Asian countries, including Japan and Korea, are threatening to boycott American imports containing G.M.O.s especially soybeans, and have removed genetically engineered soy and corn from their domestic animal feed.
Be an organic fanatic
Buying certified organic is a pretty safe bet that products are free of G.M.O.s. When picking fresh fruits and veggies, the “9” at the beginning of the PLU tattoo code indicates organic. Labels that begin with “8” are conventionally grown and could be G.M.O.s. On boxes, cans and other products, look for the green and white “certified organic” label.
(Where possible, use organics)
- 16 ounces of whole-wheat orzo pasta
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 5 sprigs of baby broccoli, chopped
- 4 ounces of crimini mushrooms, quartered
- 1/2 small yellow, orange or red pepper, diced
- 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- Juice from one large lemon
- Sea salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, and dried basil to taste
- Cook orzo until al dente and drain. Set aside.
Reach Catharine Kaufman at