April 22 is Earth Day, featuring advocacy, action, and resources to support a sustainable Earth. One way we can celebrate Earth Day is to choose an organic, GMO-free diet.
Many of us are concerned about genetically-engineered (or GE) food crops that have been on grocery store shelves for years. Now there's another GE food of concern -- cloned livestock such as pigs, cows and sheep. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has ruled that meat and dairy from cloned animals are safe to eat, clearing the way for GE animal products to enter the nation's food supply.
However, scientists, environmentalists, health professionals, and consumer advocates argue that more research is needed before GE meat or dairy become part of the food supply.
GE crops, also known as genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), are plants that have been genetically altered by cutting and transferring genes from one species to another. GE foods can contain genes from plants, bacteria, viruses, or animals that are not part of the human diet. Cloned animals are genetically engineered to be the genetic copies of a donor animal. Proponents claim that genetic manipulation can create stronger crops and animals. But a growing number of experts believe that GE foods can cause irreversible harm to the ecosystem and human health. The long-term effects of these new foods are unknown.
The U.S. leads the world in GM crop acreage, with over 30 percent of its cropland planted with genetically modified seeds. The top four GE food crops are corn, soy, cotton and canola. They often show up in processed foods as high-fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin, cottonseed oil and canola oil. The FDA does not require labeling of GMOs, although a number of health organizations have been calling for the FDA to review and label all genetically-engineered foods before they are marketed.
Fortunately, certified organic producers do not use genetically-modified seeds or ingredients. These companies go to great lengths to keep their products genetically unaltered and label their products as "non-GMO" or "GE-free."
Keeping It Real
Thousands of supermarket food products are made with ingredients from GE crops. The following GMO Guide has easy tips to avoid GE ingredients. In 2000, the True Food Network, the grassroots network of the Center for Food Safety, was established to stop genetic engineering of food and to create a sustainable food system. They've compiled an online guide of foods containing GE ingredients.
- Look for labels that say 100 percent organic or GE-free or GMO-free. By definition, 100 percent certified organic products are GE-free.
- Most whole foods including fruits, vegetables, beans, rice, wheat and other grains are GE-free.
- Baby formula and processed foods (such as chips, snacks, sodas and soft drinks) often contain GE ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin and canola oil.
To learn more about a GMO-free yoga diet and recipes, download a free sample from Elaine Gavalas' book, "Yogi in the Kitchen".
You can buy Elaine Gavalas' books here.
Elaine Gavalas is an exercise physiologist, yoga therapist, weight management specialist, nutritionist and healthy recipe developer.
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