Guest Author: Simcha Weinstein
GMOs are present in about 70 percent of foods on US supermarket shelves, as the vast majority of processed foods contain GMOs. One major exception, however, are fresh fruits and vegetables. The only genetically modified produce you’re likely to find is the Hawaiian papaya, a small amount of zucchini and yellow squash, and some sweet corn – all grown using conventional farming methods. Remember, USDA organic standards prohibit any genetically modified ingredients. Organic fresh produce CANNOT (by law) be raised using genetic engineering! No meat, fish, or poultry products approved for direct human consumption are bioengineered at this point, though most of the feed for livestock and fish come from GM corn, alfalfa, and other biotech grains. Only organic varieties of these animal products are guaranteed to be GMO-free.
Here is a rundown on which fresh produce items (conventionally grown) are genetically modified, as well as a couple that have been believed to be modified, but actually are not:
Genetically modified fresh fruit and vegetables:
Papayas: In the 1990s, Hawaiian papaya trees were hit hard by a virus that destroyed nearly half the crop. In 1998, scientists developed a transgenic fruit called Rainbow papaya, which is resistant to the virus. Now 77 percent of the crop grown in Hawaii is genetically engineered (GE).
Corn: While 90 percent of corn grown in the United States is genetically modified, most of that crop is used for animal feed or ethanol and much of the rest ends up in processed foods. Sweet corn that we typically eat on the cob was GMO-free until 2012, when Monsanto unveiled its first GE harvest of sweet corn.
Squash and Zucchini: While the majority of squashes on the market are not genetically engineered, a very small amount of acreage of crookneck and straight-neck squash, along with zucchini squash have been bioengineered to be virus resistant.
Potatoes: In 1995, Monsanto introduced genetically modified potatoes, but as a result of consumer pressure, McDonald’s and several other major fast food chains told their French fry suppliers to stop growing GE potatoes. Just last Friday The Department of Agriculture approved a new potato genetically engineered to reduce the amounts of a potentially harmful ingredient when making French fries and potato chips. The question remains whether this potato will be adopted by food companies and restaurant, given the current opposition to genetically engineered food.
A Fruit believed to be genetically modified—but actually isn’t-
Seedless Watermelon: The seedless watermelon is actually a hybrid of two separate breeds. It has not been bioengineered. Only 16% of watermelons sold at the retail level have seeds.
If you like this blog post read more from Simcha at: http://blog.albertsorganics.com