Your box of crackers may be changing its label … again. Mandatory labeling of foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) may soon become law in the United States. A bill requiring identification of bioengineered food ingredients has passed both the House and the Senate and is now sitting on the president’s desk. For many food companies looking to replace the trans fats and GMO ingredients in their recipes, palm oil is the number one alternative because it is non-GMO and naturally trans fat free.

For much of the world this labeling is nothing new – Europe has been labeling foods made with GMO ingredients since 1997 – but it’s yet another change for Americans who may be growing tired of all the changes to their food labels.

What are bioengineered or GMO foods?

Quite simply, bioengineered foods have foreign genes inserted into their genetic code. For example, a corn plant may have DNA from a soil bacteria inserted to make it resistant to pests. This is different than cross-breeding – such as when your grandma crossed a tomato plant with long-lasting fruit with one that produces flavorful fruit in hopes of producing that perfect tomato – because genetic engineering crosses different species. Some farmers use other ways to guard against crop pests. For example, Malaysian oil palm farmers use owls to control rats.

GMO-free shopping guide

  1. Eat food closer to how it is found in nature. Grocery stores are filled with products made with genetically modified ingredients. That’s because common processed food ingredients such as corn syrup and soy lecithin are made with corn and soy which are almost always genetically modified. Nutritionist Jonny Bowden echoed this mantra when he appeared on ABC news, as did Chef Gerard Viverito when he discussed foods labels on NBC news.
  2. Know which foods may be risky. Common GMO foods in the United States include soy, corn, sugar beets, rapeseed (canola), zucchini, squash, alfalfa and peas. A great start is to replace your cooking oil with Malaysian sustainable palm oil. This nutritious non-GMO oil is popular worldwide. If you need to buy high-risk produce, choose U.S.D.A. organic-labeled products. The government doesn’t allow foods which contain genetically modified ingredients to be labeled as organic.
  3. Look for the non-GMO verified seal. Foods with this label do not contain genetically engineered ingredients. Because some non-GMO foods are not labeled, it’s still a good idea to read ingredient labels when choosing foods for your family. Look for non-GMO ingredients such as Malaysian palm oil, wheat and beans.
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