“Flavr Savr” tomatoes were the first Monsanto Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) food product in which the gene, polylacturonase, an enzyme was deactivated. The presence of the active gene allows the fruit to soften. By deactivating the gene, the fruit would have a longer shelf life. It wasn’t successful, as it could not withstand packaging and handling. Also, where the saved flavor went to no one seemed to know, but it was definitely not in the tomato. Currently, no GMO tomatoes are being marketed or grown commercially in North America or Europe.

In general, if you are looking to avoid GMOs in your food, you are safe to choose organic, as current USDA organic standards prohibit the use of GMOs. Look for the “Non-GMO Project” seal on the packaging. You may wish to visit their website for a list of certified products (www.nongmoproject.org). The seal even means, if it has animal ingredients, the animals haven’t been fed GMO feed.

Whole Foods Market has plant derived ingredients in their 365 Everyday Value line which are non-GMO sourced. Check with your favorite grocer to see if they carry products specifically marketed to avoid GMOs. If you buy direct from your farmer or fisher they should be able to tell you if they are growing non-GMO plants and feeding animals non-GMO feed.

Monsanto has helped develop a host of food products you should consider avoiding.

CORN – 80% of all corn is GMO. Look for ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, corn starch, or corn (vegetable) oil and avoid the foods they are in if they aren’t marked organic.

MILK – All milk has hormones, not all have Monsanto recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone.

VEGETABLE OILs – Corn, cottonseed, canola (edible version of rapeseed oil and obtained from a system of chemical actions) and soybean.

SOY – 80% of soy is GMO. Soy lecithin (35% soybean oil) is an emulsifier. A few examples of where it can be found are chocolate, salad dressings, baked goods, cough drops and asthma inhalers. Danger Will Robinson! There have been soy products marked organic which actually contain GMO soy. Good luck with that. I started to avoid all soy when I watched a movie that showed children and farm workers who had walked through or worked with soy crops and were breaking out with sores which were nearly impossible to heal. I started suffering from similar, painful sores shortly after I started adding soy products to my diet, so I did my own in-house experiments. Soy was definitely the culprit. A tip if you have a penchant for excellent chocolate, which often contains soy lecithin. It’s not a foolproof guideline, but I have found “fair trade” chocolate tends to be non-GMO and soy-less. Read your labels.

HAWAIIAN PAPAYA – Hawaiian GMO papaya has been the subject of much debate. The virus resistant plant contains DNA from the Ringspot virus. Hawaiian farmers have been arguing over the safety of growing these crops. As with all organic farmers bordering GMO crop farms, they are concerned with safety issues of eating GMO papaya and contamination of their fruit, rendering that fruit unmarketable as organic.

Hawaiian GMO Papaya

ASPARTAME – This Monsanto food sweetener has been found to cause neurotoxicity. Some reported ailments include memory loss, headaches, confusion, and vision changes.

SUGAR BEETS –In 2005, seven major sugar processors decided to convert the entire US beet sugar production to Round-up Ready GMO varieties, constituting about 35% of all sugar globally produced; about half of all sugar in the United States. They supply companies like Mars and Hershey’s. In addition to glyphosphate DNA, the plants are coated with Monsanto “Roundup” several times during the growing cycle. Sugar beets don’t need to be a sugar source. There are organic beet sugar and artificial sweetener alternatives. Maple syrup, birch syrup, honey, cane sugar, organic raw sugar are a few. Your baked goods will thank you and so will your eaters. Look for “cane sugar” or “organic (raw) sugar in food product ingredient lists.

Grow More Sugar Beets

I realize this information makes shopping complicated. I warn you that a food you buy today may have different ingredients the next time you buy it. If you grow your own, look for heirloom seeds to avoid Monsanto seed products and maintain food diversity.

I think that while an individual has the right to choose the food he wishes, he has a responsibility to know about how his food is sourced. However, in that quest for knowledge, I caution us all to not let information overload ruin our food enjoyment. Bon appétit!