How To Avoid Genetically Modified Food

by Dagmar Bleasdale on May 9, 2011

How To Avoid Genetically Modified Food

Do you avoid GMOs?

You should.

I’m part of the blogger network and have access to the latest information on how to avoid chemicals in our lives. If you are wondering about something related to toxins, check out their website full of invaluable information.

For example, did you know that about 75 percent of processed foods sold in the U.S. contain at least some genetically modified food ingredients?

Why? Because there is no law in the U.S. requiring the labeling of foods that contain GM ingredients.

The best way to avoid GMO products is by buying unprocessed, 100% certified organic LOCAL WHOLE FOODS.

Here are some ways to avoid genetically modified foods:

Read the PLU labels:

  • If the five digit PLU number starts with “8,” the food is either genetically modified or genetically engineered.
  • If the five digit PLU number starts with “9,” it’s organic.

100% certified organic is by law never genetically modified.

I don’t know about you, but knowing that 75 percent of the food I see here in the U.S. is in some way genetically altered makes me look at food completely different.

All of a sudden it is much easier to say no to many things I previously ate, like frozen dinners, and I’m buying more organic food for my family.

Do you avoid genetically modified food?

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel @ day2day joys. May 15, 2011 at 8:23 PM

great tip about reading the code! Never knew that! btw, I started a new link up for sharing healthy ideas, suggestions, going “green” tips, etc. and I hope you and anyone else interested will join me this Wednesday! (Healthy 2day Wednesdays) Have you’re having a great weekend!


Pet May 13, 2011 at 6:33 AM

I work in a produce department and thought I should mention a few things.

The “8” in the PLU number for genetically modified fresh produce is *voluntary* and no one has used it in years. It’s for inventory-control only. (Somehow it’s become some kind of urban legend that GMO producers have to use it. They don’t. They are forbidden from using “9”, but they don’t have to declare with an “8”.)

Most GMOs are used for animal feed and in processed food. In the fresh produce department, corn and Hawaiian papaya are most likely GMOs, zucchini and yellow squash might be. No other GMO produce has been approved for sale directly to the consumer in the US yet, though they are looking to get non-browning apples approved next, from what I understand. So almost everything in the fresh produce department is conventional or organic.

The “9” is also voluntary, and organic distributors almost always use it. On some occasions if yields are good and wholesale prices are low, organic produce ends up in the conventional sections labeled without the “9”, so people sometimes buy organic without knowing it. I most often have seen this with bananas. It doesn’t happen the other way around.

(There are also 5-digit PLUs that begin with “6” and “2” that usually appear on specialty produce like hot peppers, herbs and ginger root. They don’t indicate anything.)

Organic food producers (of things like cereal or corn chips) are legally allowed to call their products organic even if they contain GMO-based soy lecithin because it’s nearly impossible to find organic soy lecithin. Last I heard (and this may have changed) only one company produces organic soy lecithin.

The article you linked doesn’t mention the scariest thing! This January a plant pathogen researcher warned the USDA that they have found a new replicating pathogen in high concentrations in Roundup-ready GMO crops that appears to cause infertility and miscarriage rates as high as 45% when fed to pregnant heifers. One of the herds studied came from my state.

I find this disconcerting because another study in Quebec (I’m afraid I have lost the link!) has found that some toxins from Round-Up that cause liver damage and poor bone development in animal studies also pass through the umbilical cord in humans.

Whether this results in any long-term developmental problems in humans or not is purely conjecture, of course, since no long-term studies have been done for various reasons, but I’d really prefer to have the GMO info readily available on a label by law so I know if it’s been slathered in Round-Up or made from corn that produces it’s own pesticides.

If other people don’t mind volunteering their families as guinea pigs, that’s fine, that’s their business. I would never tell someone else how and what they should eat. But given this country’s and company’s frightening histories with public health I prefer to err on the side of caution.


Annie January 10, 2012 at 12:27 AM

This is very helpful information, thank you so much!

This comment is for Pet and anyone else – I have never been able to find information regarding the effects of genetically modified seeds on humans. I know the fear behind them and I understand how eating something science tried to make better isn’t as good as nature does it on its own….but what will eating macaroni noodles once a month do to my kids?

I really do try to feed my family whole foods. It’s tough though when the easy to make foods are spaghetti and such and buying ingredients for those is almost twice as expensive.


Daniella L May 12, 2011 at 2:56 PM

While GMO food may look safe & have “added nutritional value” it didn’t have before, to me that is as silly as adding vitamins to soda and calling them nutritious.

Nature created foods that are whole: They not only have the nutritional value we need, but those nutrients interact and were developed in a way that science & nutritionists have yet to truly understand… So it is quite possible that genetically modifying a fruit to have more of a particular nutrient does nothing. Or worse, neglects some part of the fruit that is truly important to our health.

While organic may currently be more expensive in the supermarket, I believe purchasing as much as your wallet will allow is the better choice.


Dagmar May 12, 2011 at 9:26 PM

Hi Danielle, I agree with everything you mentioned. Who is claiming that GMO has “added nutritional value”? I have never heard of that and hope everyone would see right through that claim. How can GMO be better? LOL

I’m totally with you, nature created fruits and vegetables and everything else for that matter to be in balance and to feed us what we need, and messing with nature usually bites us in the butt.


Lisa May 12, 2011 at 2:26 PM

This is horrible. I’m buying organic as much as I can but it’s so expensive. I love when Stop & Shop has their organic carrots and celery on sale b/c I stock up.


Nancy~The Wife of a Dairyman May 12, 2011 at 5:06 AM

I appreciate your opinion and the great thing about living where we live is being able to have the choices we have. I believe it’s important to feel good about what we personally feed our own families. I personally don’t have a problem with GMO food. From the research I’ve done, I believe it is safe to consume it.

In the U.S. alone, over 3 million acres of farmland is lost every year. By 2040, it is estimated that California alone will lose over 1,000,000 acres of its Central Valley farmland to low-density urban sprawl. What I find terrifying is, annually, population growth adds 78,000,000 more people to the planet.

U.S. agriculture feeds much of the world…..where will all this food we need come from?


Dagmar May 12, 2011 at 2:03 PM

Hi Nancy,

I appreciate your comment. I know it is very hard to make a living as a farmer and dairy farmer nowadays and that’s wrong. But I don’t believe GMO is the answer. What was wrong with things as they were before? Now greed, and not feeding people with nutritious feed, seems to be the goal. I don’t mean greed by the farmers, but greed by the suppliers, like Monsanto.

Seems to me that Americans have just become so accustomed to overeating that we now needs so much more food. If we all ate a sensible diet of natural food, more fruit and vegetables, instead of processed food, we’d all be better off. People in Germany, where I am from, don’t eat like people here and there is plenty of food to go around and people are so much healthier over there. Obesity isn’t really an issue there. So I don’t quite get the argument that we now need to use GMO to feed the masses. And in Germany they hardly use GMO, if any (I need to research this more, but I know the use of GMO has to be labeled and I can’t imagine those products get bought much once you have a fat label on something that has GMO in it. I wouldn’t).


Janice aka JPlovesCOTTON May 11, 2011 at 2:52 PM

Hey Dagmar,

I have a different viewpoint. There are a lot of miperceptuins that swirl around about genetically modified foods. The crops raised and ingredients used in food have been tested extensively for safety and the US labeling system is based on nutrition information, other than the voluntary certified organic program. The misinformation out there implies foods made with GMOs isn’t safe but the reality is, the same science that developed biotech medicine has developed biotech crops. And we are now looking at crops that can perform better on less water due to modifications as well as crops that can supply important nutrients that didn’t used to. The details and big picture are what led me to work with biotech.

For me, the nutrition info, particularly things like serving size need to be looked at more closely as we eat. I know I have been guilty of having something and later realizing that killed my caloric intake for the day!

Since you & I have interacted a good bit, you are likely aware that I work for Monsanto. I want to put that here for your readers. I can also note my brother has an organic CSA so choice works well in our family.



Dagmar May 12, 2011 at 1:13 AM

Hi Janice,

I’m not aware of having interacted with you in the past and didn’t know you worked for Monsanto.

I am of the opinion that you always ask for trouble when you modify something — there usually is always a price to pay, even if you have to wait years to find out. I don’t feel comfortable to eat GMO food, but I’m sure we eat a fair bit because it is in so much we buy in America, but I’m making more and more of a choice to buy certified organic.


Janice aka JPlovesCOTTON May 12, 2011 at 9:32 PM

Just interacting on twitter through BlogChat or some other forums. I used to live in White Plains so now & then we’ve traded messages on topics in that area.

For me, one of the great things we have in the US is lots of choices in safe, abundant food. Everyone needs to make the choices they are comfortable with.


Wayfaring Wanderer May 11, 2011 at 4:21 AM

I mostly definitely avoid those types of food! The best way to do this is by shopping at your local Farmer’s Market where you can find organic options. My household also takes part in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where we get an allotment of fresh fruits and veggies from a local farmer every week.

If you know where to look, these options are all around. I just wrote a post called, ” 10 Reasons to Visit the Farmer’s Market”. Take a look for even more reasons to eat non-GMO foods.



Val (Wag'n Tales) May 11, 2011 at 4:04 AM

As a mother of four boys, I respect your decisions to provide for your children the best sources of food that you feel are available. But as a mother and a farmer, I hear stories of children that go to bed without meals, and I feel as if we are becoming a bit extreme in our demands of what agriculture can and cannot do. I agree with Katie, and I trust GMO foods and know that most people consume them without even knowing so, and there are no ill-effects. We already have a population that cannot be fed with the farming methods that are being used today, no matter how cutting-edge, how improved, how resource- and environmentally-friendly. How would the world be fed by going back to our ancestors’ methods? Again, I’m all for having the choice, and applaud those that support local agriculture and local farms, but it’s not a choice that everyone can make. And that decision should be available to all. And you are right, more people SHOULD be aware of their food choices, but not just the sensationalized stories that sell papers…the real stories, straight from the farm. Thank you for doing your part in making more people aware!


Katie @Pinke Post May 11, 2011 at 2:50 AM

I trust GMO foods and know that we need GMO crops in order for farmers to grow enough food to feed a global population. If you can afford to buy non-GMO, local, organic foods that is great for you to support those farmers. However, I think reality those that can afford those food and have access to them are affluent. My food choices are different than yours but I don’t think they are wrong. Thank you for sharing your perspective.


The Zany Housewife May 9, 2011 at 11:16 PM

It’s pretty disturbing to me. And what I find more disturbing than our food not being labeled, is that the majority of people I mention this to, don’t care. They just don’t care. It blows my mind.

I do have one friend, however, who sent me a list (I wish I could remember the link) of companies that don’t use GMO ingredients vs. companies that most likely do. It’s changed how I shop for our groceries even more than before.


Angela (Toucan Scraps) May 9, 2011 at 9:37 AM

I’m so glad I live in the UK, where gm foods etc have to be labelled.


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