6 Grocery Tips for Avoiding GMOs

Though dozens of countries around the world require genetically modified food to be labeled, the US is not one of them. In the absence of lables, here are our best tips for avoiding GMOs when you shop:

1. Look for the Non-GMO Project label: The Non-GMO Project label provides consumers with independent, third-party assurance that a product contains no GMOs. The Project tests high-risk ingredients in the products that bear its label, to ensure that they contain less than 0.9 percent GMOs (allowing for low levels of unintentional contamination).

2. Be wary of unverified non-GMO claims: A company may legally label its products as being GMO-free without having to perform testing or otherwise prove to a third-party that is the case. Continue reading “6 Grocery Tips for Avoiding GMOs”

Bitter Seeds: The Human Toll of GMOs

Every 30 minutes, a farmer commits suicide in India, a phenomenon that has been steadily rising since the 1970s. Documentary filmmaker Micha X. Peled took his cameras to the vibrant farming community of Telung Takli in the state of Maharashtra—which sits at the heart of the crisis— to find out why.

Peled’s 2011 film Bitter Seeds starts out with brief scenes from the funeral of a farmer who has just committed suicide. It swiftly cuts away to follow the story of Ram Krishna Kopulwar, who has been farming cotton on the same three acres since he was seven, as he plants genetically modified (GM) Bt cotton seeds for the first time. The question at the heart of the film is whether or not this gentle family man will join the list of farmers who have given Maharashtra and a handful of neighboring states the nickname of “India’s Suicide Belt.” Continue reading “Bitter Seeds: The Human Toll of GMOs”

GMOs: We Need to Know What’s In Our Food

This opinion piece originally ran in local newspapers around the country starting March 19.  You are free to repost to your own blog or Web site, or to submit to your own local newspaper, attributed to Andrew Korfhage, online editor at Green America.

Do you care what’s in the food you eat?

A quick look at the labels on the products lining your supermarket shelves suggests that most of us do. Many products already bear labels proclaiming the number of calories, the grams of sugar, fiber, and fat, and other details for every serving. Labels say whether the products we put in our bodies are sugar-free, kosher, organic, and more. Shouldn’t we also know whether the food we’re eating is genetically modified?

Right now, we can’t know for sure. The FDA requires no labeling for produce grown from genetically modified seeds or for products made with genetically modified ingredients. Yet some of the most common ingredients in processed food — like soy and corn — are almost always grown from genetically modified seeds.

Continue reading “GMOs: We Need to Know What’s In Our Food”

Stop “Agent Orange” Corn

Here at Green America, we’ve been putting the finishing touches on our next issue of the Green American, which features a set of articles about the human health and environmental concerns around genetically modified organism (GMO) in our food supply. Among the numerous concerns we discuss in the article is Dow Chemical’s current application to plant a new type of GMO corn, one  that is resistant to herbicide 2, 4-D, a major component of Dow and Monsanto’s infamous  and highly  toxic Agent Orange.

According to the Center For Food Safety,

Exposure to 2,4-D has been linked to major health problems that include cancer (especially non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma), lowered sperm counts, liver disease and Parkinson’s disease.  A growing body of evidence from laboratory studies show that 2,4-D causes endocrine disruption, reproductive problems, neurotoxicity and immunosuppression.  Further, industry’s own tests show that 2,4-D is contaminated with dioxins, a group of highly toxic chemical compounds that bioaccumulate, so even a minute amount can accumulate as it goes up the food chain, causing dangerous levels of exposure.  Dioxins in Agent Orange have been linked to many diseases, including birth defects in children of exposed parents; according to EPA, 2,4-D is the seventh largest source of dioxins in the U.S.

Currently, about 88% of corn grown in the US if genetically modified, virtually all of it being Monstano’s Round-Up Ready variety. Round-Up Ready corn is resistant to Monsanto’s Round-Up herbicide, meaning that farmers can spray the herbicide on their fields to kill weeds without fear of harming their crop of corn. However, despite early claims that GMO crops would reduce pesticide use, studies indicate that pesticide use has actually increased by millions of pound per acre.

Continue reading “Stop “Agent Orange” Corn”

Stop GMO Apples

Did you know the USDA is currently considering approval of a genetically engineered “non-browning” apple produced by Okanagan Specialty Fruits in Canada?

If you try to avoid US-produced corn, soy, cottonseed, and canola because of GMOs, apples could be next.  The US apple industry is concerned, that if unlabeled genetically engineered apples enter the US market, consumers, both domestic and international, could reject US apples altogether in favor of imports from countries where apples are still produced using traditional breeding methods.

The Organic Consumers Association is making it easy for you to send a message to keep GMOs out of our food supply.

Send a message to the USDA »

P.S.   When you shop for produce, note that on the PLU sticker, a five-digit number beginning with “8” stands for GMO.   This is a VOLUNTARY labeling practice, so inconsistently applied, but in some cases it can help you make an informed shopping decision.

Tell the FDA to label GMO food

You have a right to know what’s in the food you eat and prepare for your family.

Currently, dozens of countries around the world — including the 15 European Union nations, Russia, Japan, China, and Australia — require truth in labeling for food products made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It’s time for the United States to catch up.

A June 2011 poll by ABC News* found that 93 percent of Americans want the federal government to require GMO food to be labeled. Please take action with us today, to send a message to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, demanding action on this important issue.

Add your name to the petition »

You can learn more about the dangers of GMO food from this Green American article, and stay tuned for more in-depth coverage of how to protect yourself from GMOs in the Green American in 2012. (If you’re not already a supporting member receiving the Green American, please join us here.)

Finding eco-friendly clothing for back-to-school

Editorial intern Kara Turtinen explores how children’s clothes are made, and discovers what to look for, and what to avoid, when purchasing for back-to-school.

From her article in the latest Green American:

Items made from sustainable fibers are the safest and Earth-friendliest clothing for kids and adults. Here’s what to look for:

Organic cotton: Organic cotton is grown without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Be careful of cotton that is described as “undyed,” “untreated,” “natural,” or “green.” These labels are not regulated and are sometimes used to market conventional cotton. Also organic cotton may still be coated with toxic finishes.

Industrial hemp: Rapidly renewable industrial hemp produces three times more fabric per acre than cotton, and it requires little to no pesticides or herbicides.

Bamboo: Bamboo is a hardy plant that grows quickly and easily. However, toxic chemicals can be used to turn the plant into what is basically rayon. The US Federal Trade Commission mandates that companies using this process must label their products “rayon made from bamboo,” rather than just “bamboo.” Companies that use an eco-friendlier process may label their clothing as made from “bamboo.” Consumers should note that true bamboo fiber will not feel “silky smooth” like bamboo-based rayon.

Recycled polyester: Recycled polyester is made from recycled soda bottles, cast-off fabrics, and worn-out garments.

Wool: Wool is renewable, doesn’t need chemicals to grow, and is naturally fi reresistant. Animal rights activists, however, have expressed concern about “mulesing,” where farmers cut the folds around sheep genitalia. Farmers say mulesing helps prevent fatal blowfly infestations, but activists say the process is painful and ask shoppers to avoid new sheep wool items.

Read the whole thing »