“Natural” Products Often Contain GMOs
In an effort to eat healthier, many of us often reach for foods that are labeled “natural”. It’s a common belief that these foods are made with all-natural ingredients, and don’t contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
These days, GMOs are an especially controversial concern. Some animal studies suggest GMOs can cause damage to the immune system, liver, and kidneys.
“There hasn’t been enough research to determine whether GMOs are harmful to people,” says Michael Hansen, Ph.D., senior scientist at Consumers Union and an authority on genetic engineering. “But scientists around the world agree that GMOs have the potential to introduce allergens and create other unintended changes that may affect health.”
Recently, Consumer Reports tested some of the foods you eat every day for genetically modified ingredients. This included breakfast cereals, chips, vegetarian meat substitutes, granola bars and other popular products. And they discovered GMOs lurking in many packaged foods—including some that carry labels suggesting that they don’t have these controversial ingredients.
Here’s what they discovered:
- Almost all samples of conventional products tested contained GMO corn or soy.
- Virtually all samples carrying a “natural” label had levels of GMO corn or soy that were comparable to their conventional (or unlabeled) counterparts.
- Samples of soy based infant formulas, like other products we tested, contained mostly GMO soy unless they carried the organic and Non-GMO label, in which case GMO content was minimal.
- Products carrying an “organic” label or a “Non-GMO Project Verified” seal contained negligible levels of GMO corn or soy (0.9% or less.)
It might surprise you to learn that the FDA doesn’t have a definition for the term “natural”. And they don’t object to the use of the term as long as the food product doesn’t contain added color, artificial flavors or synthetic ingredients. So it’s no wonder so many of them contain genetically modified corn and soy.
Your best bet? If you want the healthiest ingredients and no GMOs in your food, look for products labeled “organic” or “Non-GMO Project Verified”. Since these labels have third party verification, they are the most reliable.