Genetically modified crops have overtaken the modern agricultural industry, especially in developed countries (yeah I’m talking about you, North America). According to the Center for Food Safety, about 70% of the food in N. America contains GMOs. “100% organic” foods are non-GMO by law but not all food labeled “organic” is non-GMO.
Here are TEN of the most common GMO foods:
Corn crops and corn-derivatives (like high fructose corn syrup) are almost always genetically modified. They are injected with a pesticide called Bt (bacillus thuringiensis). When consumed, this poisonous protein wrecks insects’ digestive tract and kills them. GMO corn is also sprayed with herbicide resistant chemicals (Roundup Ready). About 88% of the corn grown in North America are GMOs.
- Soybeans and soy products
Also modified to resist herbicides. Approximately 90% of soybeans in the U.S. are produced by Monsanto to be Roundup Ready. About 93% of all soybeans are GMOs.
- Canola oil
Do you know where canola oil comes from? Canola oil is developed from the genetically modified rapeseed plant. Rapeseed oil is actually poisonous to living things and serves as a great insect repellent! Before it was “canola”, this kind of oil was only used for industrial purposes.
Much of our manufactured sugar comes from the sugar beet plant. It accounts for 45% of the world’s sugar production. They’ve been modified to be herbicide resistant (Roundup Ready), virus, fungal, and nematode resistant. About 95% are GMOs.
The U.S. and Canada imports almost all of its papayas from Hawaii, 77% of which are genetically modified. In the early 1990s, Hawaiian papayas were plagued with ringspot virus. This led scientists to inject a gene of the ringspot virus to create a kind of papayas, called Rainbow papayas, to be virus resistant.
Almost 40% of cows in the U.S. are injected with RGBH, a recombinant bovine growth hormone, to increase milk production. The use of this hormone is banned in 27 countries, including the EU, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, but most cows are still fed GMO corn, grains, and hay. A lot of cheese is also made using a type of genetically modified fungi that can produce chymosin, an enzyme in calf stomachs that breaks down milk.
- Alfalfa (aka lucerne)
Scientists have engineered alfalfa to be herbicide resistant (Roundup Ready) by injecting the alfalfa’s genes with e.coli bacteria. Alfalfa is the 4th most cultivated plant in North America and most commonly used as fodder for cows. Almost all alfalfa planted after 2011 are GMOs.
Not just used for making textiles, cotton is also used in animal feed and other processed foods. Most cotton is grown in India and the U.S., with production in China on the rise. 70-90% of cotton grown in these countries are genetically modified to contain the Bt poison. They’re also Roundup Ready.
Zucchinis from the U.S. are engineered to be fungal and virus resistant. There are about 25,000 acres of GMO zucchini planted.
- Yellow Summer Squash
Like zucchinis, this variety of squash is also modified to be fungal and virus resistant.
Thankfully, many European countries, including France, Germany, and Italy, have already placed bans on genetically modified crops because the people are aware of the dangers to human health and our environment (the amount of pesticides used is a huge issue!). It’s time for North America to do the same! Agricultural corporations (ahem Monsanto) have infiltrated our political systems, perpetuated our society’s dependency on subpar produce, and sucked up our money. Let’s take it back from them.
Know where your food comes from. Be conscious of what you put in your body. Support your local independent farmers. And if you’re ambitious, grow your own food.