How to Shop for GE-Free Food
3 tips for finding food that isn't genetically engineered.
3 tips for finding food that isn't genetically engineered. Watch: A Farmer Explains What GMOs Are
One of the biggest quandaries for consumers today is that there is no labeling requirement for genetically engineered food. There are, increasingly, though, ways to identify foods that don't contain GE ingredients. If you are concerned about consuming genetically engineered foods, look for these GE-free labels.
USDA Certified Organic Seal. USDA Certified Organic specifies that foods must be produced without the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetic engineering and other excluded practices, sewage sludge or irradiation. For livestock, that means that the feed must be organic as well. The USDA inspects and monitors this seal. Watch out for products, though, that say they "contain organic ingredients"-there's no guarantee that all ingredients in them are organic.
Non-GMO Label. Started at a natural-foods store in Berkeley, California, in 2003, the Non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) Project has grown to include certification and labeling of more than 900 products and, according to a Nielsen report, was the fastest-growing health and wellness claim on store brands in 2009 (gluten-free was No. 2). Last October, more than 580 stores (including Whole Foods, which is certifying its "365 Everyday Value" brand as Non-GM) participated in a Non-GMO month highlighting the label. Keep in mind: Non-GMO does not mean a product is organic.
rBST-free or rbGH-free. Though cows are not (yet) genetically engineered, many are being injected with a genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone to boost milk production. Though this milk is approved by the FDA as safe for human consumption, so-called recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) or recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) has been linked to health problems in cows and remains controversial. It's been banned in Canada and Europe. When conventional milk producers began labeling their bottles "rBST-free," agribusiness giant Monsanto (which developed the technology) bankrolled a farmers' organization that pushed state governments to ban the label. It was unsuccessful and many milk brands now state rBST- or rBGH-free on their labels.