10 ways to clean GMOs out of your home

August 11, 2012

Food, Genetically modified, Health

Approximately 90 percent of canola, more than 94 percent of soy and 88 percent of corn in the U.S. is now genetically modified.

by Courtney Pineau — 

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are plants or animals created through the gene-splicing techniques of biotechnology. These are organisms that would never occur naturally. Many health risks are associated with GMOs, but I keep them out of my home because I have no interest in feeding my family experimental foods.

The studies showing potential long-term health consequences from the consumption of GMOs are very unsettling — there is so much we do not know about these engineered “foods.” I believe that one of the most powerful things I can do as a consumer is to vote with my wallet. Why would I purchase food that is unhealthy both for my family and the environment?

If you are ready to spring-clean GMOs out of your diet, here are 10 easy steps to help you give them the boot:

1. Kick out the high GMO-risk breakfast cereals. If your breakfast cereals contain corn, soy or canola (as most do), it likely contains GMOs. Make sure that the cereal you choose is Non-GMO Project Verified. The Non-GMO Project has a fantastic selection of verified breakfast foods.

2. Use canola oil wisely. Approximately 90 percent of canola in the United States is GMO, so if you choose to use canola oil, make sure that you buy a Non-GMO Project Verified brand. If you cannot find this type of canola oil in your local store, you can switch from a high-risk canola to a low-risk alternative like olive oil for low-temperature cooking and unrefined coconut oil for high-temperature cooking.

3. Remember that “natural” does not always mean what you think it does. Natural products are just as likely to be GMO as conventional ones. Even natural products purchased at the health food store may contain GMOs. If you need help finding verified products when you are shopping, download the Non-GMO Project iPhone app from the Apple store.

4. Pack a non-GMO lunchbox. Keep your family members eating non-GMOs when they are at school and work by packing them a non-GMO lunch. Many items like granola bars, lunchmeats and snack packs contain ingredients that are most likely GMO. Corn, soy and canola are everywhere. Luckily, many great Non-GMO Project Verified lunch foods are available. Try changing one item at a time to help your family transition to food that is non-genetically modified. Great places to start are snack foods, breads and crackers, frozen meals and treats.

5. Give your soy products an overhaul. Soy is present in a huge number of processed foods, from the obvious in foods like soy milk, tofu and soy sauce, to hidden sources that include almost all packaged snack bars, meats, breads and such. Soy is everywhere. Since more than 94 percent of soy sold in the United States is GMO, it is important to make sure your soy products are Non-GMO Project Verified whenever possible.

6. Be skeptical of corn products. Our family loves Mexican food; however, since 88 percent of U.S. corn is now genetically engineered, we have had to look for non-genetically modified alternatives to our favorite products. Thankfully, there are many delicious verified chip and tortilla (search “tortillas” on the Non-GMO Project website) brands. Like soy, corn shows up where you least expect it. Be a label sleuth.

7. Look for hidden GMO ingredients. GMOs may be hidden in common processed food ingredients, such as amino acids, aspartame, ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, vitamin C, citric acid, sodium citrate, flavorings (natural and artificial), high-fructose corn syrup, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, lactic acid, maltodextrins, molasses, monosodium glutamate, sucrose, textured vegetable protein, xanthan gum, vitamins and yeast products.

8. Satisfy your sweet tooth with non-GMO treats. In our culture, it is not uncommon to celebrate or show our appreciation with treats. Unfortunately, many candies and other packaged sweets are full of beet sugar, soy and corn — all very high GMO-risk ingredients. Make sure you are treating your family with non-genetically modified goodies.

9. Be proactive. If you come across a product listed on the Non-GMO Project website that is not carried at your local grocery store, ask your local retailer to see if the store can stock it. Most retailers are happy to try to fulfill customer requests. If there is a brand you would like to see become Non-GMO Project Verified, make a product verification request.

10. Become a GMO-risk-reduction ninja. First, learn which crops are GMO — thankfully, the list is short. Second, make a list of the foods your family eats most often. If they are genetically modified, find an alternative. If you cannot find one, look for a certified-organic option. If all else fails, look for a low-risk alternative to a high GMO-risk product.


Courtney Pineau is a writer for the Non-GMO Project, a nonprofit organization committed to building awareness about GMOs on health and food systems, as well as providing verified non-GMO choices. The project offers North America’s only third-party verification and labeling for non-genetically modified food and products.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 31, Number 3, June/July 2012.

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