LIVE YOUR HEALTH
In 2010, after completing a rigorous application and site review process by Meals On Wheels America, we were awarded “Exemplary Status” Magnet Accreditation for our outstanding senior nutrition program.
The 411 on GMO Foods
A lot of media attention has been given recently to GMOs recently. You may even see “non-GMO” verified on some of the food labels at the grocery store. What exactly are GMOs?
GMO stands for genetically modified organisms. GMOs are plants and animals that have had their cells and DNA manipulated through genetic engineering in order to control traits or take on certain characteristics. For example, a plant may be engineered to resist certain insects, increase yield or increase nutrients.
What foods are domestically approved and produced with GMOs? According to the Genetic Literacy Project, genetically modified crops include corn, soybean, cotton, potato, papaya, squash, canola, apple, alfalfa and sugar beet.
Why are some people concerned about GMOs? A simple web search of GMOs will give you millions of opinions on their safety. Some people are concerned that GMO foods may create allergens or toxins or change the nutritional value of the food and, therefore, negatively impact our health. Others are concerned about the environmental impact of GMOs and the potential for herbicide resistant weeds that require even more pesticide spraying.
Are GMO foods safe to eat? GMO foods are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to the FDA, “Foods from genetically engineered plants must meet the same food safety requirements as foods derived from traditionally bred plants.”
How do I know if my foods are GMO? Many companies are voluntarily labeling their products. However, these labels are not mandatory. It is also important to know that GMOs are prohibited in organic foods.
While the debate about GMOs continues, here is my opinion as a Registered Dietitian: Many of the foods central to the GMO debate are processed and packaged foods. Regardless of GMO status, processed and packaged foods tend to be higher in sodium, sugar and fat and lower in health promoting nutrients. I recommend choosing a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, with minimally processed whole grains, lean meats and dairy. By eating this way, your decisions about GMOs will be few and far between.
When presented with a GMO food, or any processed and packaged food, remember this: Moderation is key to any healthy diet!
Hayley Daubert is a registered and licensed dietitian and nutritionist who consults with Meals On Wheels of Northampton County and other organizations. For more information, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org