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Avoiding GM foods in the US

1.What Practical Tips Do You Suggest To Avoid GM Foods?
2.Kashi's GMO Controversy Rages On

EXTRACT: "This characterization of our work by Kashi is blatantly false," said Will Fantle, Cornucopia’s Research Director.  "We purchased a readily available box of Kashi’s GoLean cereal from a Whole Foods store.  We then sent a sample to an accredited national lab for testing, finding that the soy in the natural cereal was 100% GMO." It's a good reminder: We can't trust companies to do the right thing when money is on the line. 

NOTE: For the Cornucopia Institute report referred to in item 2, go to:  http://www.cornucopia.org/2011/10/natural-vs-organic-cereal/
And watch the video Cereal Crimes
http://bit.ly/nT0W9x
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1.What Practical Tips Do You Suggest To Avoid GM Foods?
Frank Lipman
http://www.drfranklipman.com/what-practical-tips-do-you-suggest-to-avoid-gm-foods/

1. *Avoid "at risk" ingredients*
The commonest crops that are genetically modified are Soy (91%) Canola (88%) Corn (85%) Cotton (71%) Sugar Beets (90%) and Hawaiian papaya (more than 50%). So in general, avoid foods with ingredients derived from corn or soybeans. Fortunately there is no GM popcorn or blue or white corn.

2. *Avoid processed foods in general*
This is the most reliable way to prevent purchasing GM foods as most processed foods have GMO ingredients in them. Processed foods using products made from corn and soybeans contain the most GM ingredients.

3. *Buy organic*
Organic foods can be labeled in 3 different ways
a) “100% organic” all ingredients are organic.
b) “organic”- at least 95% of ingredients are organic. The remaining 5% has to be non-GMO.
c) “made with organic (name of ingredient)”- 70% of ingredients are organic. The remaining 30% has to be non-GMO.

A helpful resource is: What is Organic
http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/what-is-organic.html

4. *Look for "non-GMO" labels*
Companies may voluntarily choose to label their products as "non-GMO".

Some labels are non specific and just state “non-GMO” while others are more specific and spell out “made without genetically modified ingredients”.
Some products may specify a particular “at risk” ingredient and list it as “non-GMO”

5. *Use shopping guides*
Download these non-GMO shopping guide which provides information directly from food producers:
nonGMO shopping guide
http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/download.html 
OR 
the True Food Shoppers Guide
http://truefoodnow.org/2010/07/15/shoppersguideapp/

6. *Avoid factory farmed animal products*
Most factory farmed animals and fish are fed GM feed. Buy "organic", "wild caught" (fish) or meat and dairy from 100% grass fed animals. Do not buy dairy products from cows injected with GM bovine growth hormone (rbGH or rbST).

Visit www.responsibletechnology.org for brands

7. *Avoid the sweetener Aspartame*
Also called Nutrasweet and Equal, it is a GMO derivative and is found in over 6000 products including soft drinks, gum, candy, desserts, mixes, yoghurt, tabletop sweeteners and some pharmaceuticals such as vitamins and sugar-free cough drops.

8. *When eating in restaurants...*
Try to go to restaurants that prepare foods from fresh whole ingredients rather than from packaged processed mixes that more than likely will contain GM ingredients. Try to find out what kind of oil the restaurant cooks with. Many cook with vegetable oil which is usually made from GM soy, corn, cottonseed and canola. If that is the case, then ask if your food can be prepared without oil or if a non-GMO oil like olive, sunflower of safflower oil can be used instead. Make sure the olive oil is not blended with canola oil which is common in restaurants.

If you are not sure which items on the menu are GM, ask your server or the chef. GM foods may include salad dressings, bread, mayonnaise and sugar from GM sugar beets. In addition, when ordering a dairy item, find out if the dairy is organic or rbGH free. Bottom line, don’t be shy to ask questions!

These have been adapted from a few sources, the main one: http://www.responsibletechnology.org/
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2.Kashi's GMO Controversy Rages On
Nichol Nelson
Take Part, April 26 2012
http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/04/26/kashis-gmo-controversy-rages

*Consumer backlash mounts after GMO ingredients discovered in the company's 'natural' cereals

Turns out, when you sell your cereal as a wholesome, natural alternative to mass-produced junk and then fill your boxes with genetically modified ingredients, people get angry.

Kashi, a food manufacturer that's built its brand on an identity of being healthy and earthy is being called out by Green It All's Fabrizio Pilato over an October 2011 report that contends Kashi GoLean contains high levels of GMO ingredients. UT San Diego wrote about the issue yesterday, but couldn’t get the company (owned by Kellogg’s) to comment.

So what’s really in the box? The Cornucopia report contends the brand’s “natural” claims are false. From the report:

Numerous “natural” products were indeed contaminated with high levels of GE ingredients, sometimes as high as 100%: Kashi® GoLean®, Mother’s® Bumpers®, Nutritious Living® Hi-Lo®, and General Mills Kix... Several Bear Naked® and Kashi® products contain hexane-extracted soy protein. The “hexane bath” that the soybeans are immersed in consists of more than 50% n-hexane, which is a known neurotoxin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Not surprisingly, consumers are angry. The problem basically comes down to a marketing faux-pas, since the cereals have never claimed to be organic. But because Kashi advertises itself as a natural, earthy brandand encourages that perceptionmany people were unaware that GMOs are legally acceptable in their products.

The company has joined the Non-GMO project and had seven products verified as Non-GMO: 7 Whole Grain Flakes, 7 Whole Grain Pilaf, 7 Whole Grain Puffs, Autumn Wheat, Cinnamon Harvest, Island Vanilla and Strawberry Fields. Kashi GoLean isn't on the list.

In a statement released today by Cornucopia, Cornucopia claims that Kashi is misleading consumers:

For a period of time on Wednesday, April 25, Kashi’s consumer call-in line provided only a recorded message, indicating they were “temporarily” not accepting calls.  When the company again began accepting calls, a Kashi consumer affairs employee, Rick Duran, told a Cornucopia staff member that "no actual testing" of their cereal products had been performed.  This mimicked the analysis also offered in a response by the company in an online video posted that same afternoon on the Kashi Facebook page.  The video spokesperson called Cornucopia’s information "scientifically inaccurate and misleading because it was not based on actual testing of Kashi products."

"This characterization of our work by Kashi is blatantly false," said Will Fantle, Cornucopia’s Research Director.  "We purchased a readily available box of Kashi’s GoLean cereal from a Whole Foods store.  We then sent a sample to an accredited national lab for testing, finding that the soy in the natural cereal was 100% GMO."

It's a good reminder: We can't trust companies to do the right thing when money is on the line. Want to be sure your breakfast is GMO-free? Look for the organic symbol on your box.

What do you think? Will this news change your cereal-buying habits?

Nichol hails from Minnesota, but has worked in food journalism in New York and Los Angeles for more than a decade. She served as an editor with Gourmet magazine for six years, and has contributed to several other national digital and print food publications.