GE foods

Environmental Working Group, the organization behind the popular ‘Dirty Dozen’ and ‘Clean Fifteen’ shopping guides to pesticides on produce, has just released a shopping guide for avoiding foods likely to contain genetically engineered ingredients.

The EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Avoiding GE Food, “will help consumers find supermarket foods made without ingredients likely to be genetically engineered,” the group said in a statement. The guide also “aims to help shoppers decide which foods are most important to buy certified organic or GE-free.”

According to some estimates, notes EWG, more than 75 percent of foods sold in supermarkets contain genetically engineered (or GMO) ingredients.

“Avoiding GE foods isn’t easy because consumers are denied the right to know if foods in the grocery aisles have been genetically engineered or contain GE ingredients,” said Renee Sharp, EWG’s director of research. “It is our hope that EWG’s new guide will provide shoppers with the information they need to make more informed decisions when shopping for themselves or their families.”

The guide focuses on four of the most common food ingredients likely to be GMO: soybeans, sugar, vegetable oils, and varieties of field corn.

“Some 93 percent of soybeans and 90 percent of corn grown in the U.S. have been genetically engineered. Sugar beets account for 55 percent of U.S.-grown sugar, and 95 percent of the crop is genetically engineered. Soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil and corn oil made in the U.S. come from crops that are almost entirely genetically engineered,” the group notes. “These oils are among the largest sources of generic ‘vegetable oil’.”

Consumers using the guide will also find a list of foods that may be genetically engineered including papaya, zucchini and yellow summer squash, and sweet corn, as well as salmon, plums, potatoes, rice, and tomatoes—GE foods in the approval process that may soon be available in U.S. stores.

“More and more consumers are looking for ways to avoid GE ingredients,” said Nneka Leiba, EWG’s deputy director of research. “That’s why we created this easy-to-use shopping guide. Shoppers can rely on EWG’s guide to be confident they’re buying food that hasn’t been genetically engineered or doesn’t contain GE ingredients.”

Genetically engineered foods pose environmental and health risks for a number of reasons. Major concerns lie in the heavy applications of pesticides and herbicides required in growing GE crops.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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