According to the Food Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are over 40 plant varieties that are genetically modified and have been approved to be sold commercially, these food sources are not only being modified and sold in the US, genetically Modified crops are being sold worldwide.
Many common foods such as Soy, Corn, Cotton Seed Oil, Alfalfa, Hawaiian Papaya, Tomatoes, Oilseed Rapeseed (Canola), Sugar Cane, Sugar Beet, Rice, Squash (Zucchini), Sweet Peppers, Wheat, Potato , Cantaloupe , Radicchio and Flax (linseed).
Unless otherwise stated, genetic engineering (GE) may take place to any of these common food sources & all of the derivatives made from these food sources may also have been genetically modified.
So to see how this may affect us as consumers and so that we can be aware & make informed choices in the future let’s take a look at a few of the most common genetically engineered foods in the world today:
Soy, the common soya bean and all of its derivatives are highly likely to all be genetically engineered unless otherwise stated or certified as organic.
So when referring to Soy as being genetically engineered what is being referred to is the soya bean (so both dried & tinned soy beans)
As well as all the derivatives of soy namely: soy protein (commonly found in salad dressings, soups, vegetarian foods and meat imitations.
Soy protein isolate is used in following food products:
Snacks; meal replacements; breakfast cereals; energy and protein bars; weight loss ready-to-drink beverages; soups, sauces and prepared foods; baked foods; ice cream, yogurt and other dairy or dairy-free products; meat alternatives; processed meat, poultry and fish products.
As a thickener soy protein isolate may be added to juice, milk shakes or smoothies,
in a powder form it may be sprinkled on cereal & is may be used to thicken soy yogurt.
Soy protein concentrate can be found in different forms: granules, flour and spray dried; it is mainly used in baked foods, breakfast cereals, in some meat products and also in pet foods and milk replacers.
Soy lecithin which can be found in doughs, cooking sprays, chocolate, chocolate bars & sweets & cakes.
Soybean oil commonly called vegetable oil is the world’s most widely used cooking oil as it is a cheap option when compared to many other oils.
Soy Flour is commonly added to many baked goods, processed foods & gluten free recipes.
Textured vegetable protein (TVP) or Textured soy protein, TSP is used in many food products, though its main usage is for the production of meat based alternatives such as beef, pork or chicken.
Soy milk, soy yoghurt, soy cheese, soy cream/ soy desserts, soy ice cream
Tofu also known as soya curd sold as firm tofu, soft tofu & silken tofu
Tempeh; Miso, Shoyu a dark brown liquid soy sauce sauce
Soy is also common in many infant foods including both milk formulas as well as baby food.
Lastly but certainly by no means least, soy is also used as animal feed for farm animals.
In most cases when soy or any of its derivatives have been utilised in a product they will be genetically modified unless the soy that is being utilised is organic.
Corn is another common genetically engineered food. Apart from the usual corn on the cob, corn can be found in corn flakes, pop corn, corn oil (is used for frying, is also utilised in margarine, in salad dressings & many baked goods,);
Corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are often used in candies, soft drinks, fruit drinks and also mass-produced & processed foods.
Corn starch often utilised as a thickening agent in soups, sauces, puddings, ready made meals and also used in various baked goods.
Corn meal and other corn based foods
Corn is also used widely as animal feed.
Canola which was developed from rapeseed is commonly used for cooking, frying (often used to fry chips & potatoes) and baking. Canola oil is also used in dressings, margarines and low fat butter substitutes.
Now let us take a look at a typical scenario that could occur whilst catching up with friends for a cappuccino and a slice of cake from the local café or when buying fish & chips from the takeaway.
The fish & chips from the takeaway could be dipped in GM soy flour and fried in genetcally modified canola oil also if the fish has been farmed it is highly likely that it has been fed GM feed.
A cappuccino & a slice of cake from the local café: GM soy may have been fed to the cow which produced the milk for the cappuccino and GM sugar; the slice of cake may have a combination of GM soy flour, GM canola oil, GM corn syrup as well as GM soy lecithin. If opting for a soy latte instead of a cappuccino, then the soy milk is highly likely to have been genetically modified.
As you can see the 3 most commonly genetically engineered food species and their derivatives can be found in many different types of food.
What are your views on GE foods & what do you do to try to avoid them?