Monday, December 30, 2013

GMO Corn

Is most of our corn GMO? It is true that most corn bought in the supermarket is genetically modified (GM) or engineered (GE). Over 80% of the corn grown in the US today is GM corn. Similar statistics hold for sugar beets at 95%, cotton at 88% and soybeans at 91%.

Not only is the corn, along with all its products genetically modified, but so are a host of other ingredients. In fact, it has been estimated by the Center for Food Safety that upwards of 70 percent of processed foods in supermarkets contain ingredients from genetically engineered foods. (http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/campaign/genetically-engineered-food/crops/)
On the other hand, when eating foods such as tomatoes, radicchio, wheat, flax and potatoes, the probabilities are small that they will be genetically engineered.

For those who may be wondering about edamame (specially prepared soybeans), there are no genetically-engineered edamame. There has been some concern that an edamame field might become cross-pollinated from neighboring fields of genetically engineered soybeans. Soybeans, however, are self-pollinating. Even if the edamame were grown in an area where GM soybeans were planted, there would only be a slight chance (less than 1%) of cross-pollination.

In addition, there are two papaya varieties grown in Hawaii that are genetically engineered, UH Rainbow and UH SunUp. The publication “UH Rainbow Papaya” is available for viewing at the UH CTAHR website: http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/NPH-1.pdf.  This bulletin describes the characteristics of the new varieties, the process of genetically engineered fruit, and answers and questions on safety. CTAHR is an abbreviation for College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at University of Hawaii-Manoa.

The frequent question asked, “Is genetically modified food safe to eat?” Some people see no threat eating GM foods, while others vehemently oppose it. The best advice is to get the facts. One place to start is an informative CTAHR website created by Dr. Ania Wieczorek, Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Science.  http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/biotech/Introduction.html.  Topics on the site include Hawaii Biotech, Benefits/Risks, Labeling, Regulations and FAQ.