Bioengineered Foods

How To Identify Bioengineered Foods When Shopping

In 2022 the USDA changed how food must be identified to consumers. This was fought hard against by food manufacturers, which isn’t a shocker.

Never forget much of the food sold in the world is brought to you by 10 multinational food companies.

Identifying bioengineered foods when shopping is difficult with this web of companies and who owns and produces which commercial foods.

They would prefer you stay in the dark, because then you don’t start questioning how your food is grown and processed.

A lot of food sold now contains BE or rather, bioengineered ingredients. Or as we used to call them….GMO’s. They just put a new name on them.

The thing about bioengineering is it can be good, and it can be downright horrible – all at the same time. How you look at it depends on a lot of things. Yes, you can make a crop resistant to disease. You can feed a lot more people and animals. But you are also messing with nature and bringing into it food that isn’t natural. Genetic engineering, which is the process used to create GMOs, was first used to make human insulin, a medicine used to treat diabetes. In that, it has saved untold lives across the world and was a marvel of modern life. A lot of medicines now use genetic engineering to work. But on the other hand, most of the soy and corn grown is altered now, designed for high yields. It’s a cheap set of crops, that maybe we are eating far too much of. That is also a truth. And we are altering fruit to change colors, and rice as well. Does that need to exist?

Do we really need salmon that grow faster? That one is beyond creepy when one sits and ponders it. No. We do not. We are not messing with produce, but animals.

Wether or not you consume bioengineered products is up to you. I know I do, no matter how hard I try. If I eat out, it will be in the food. You cannot get away from that. But at home I try my best. It’s not always perfect, but again I am trying to support the companies that don’t use it. I let my food budget speak for me.

And it is a huge issue for why we grow a lot of food on our homestead. So that we know what we are eating.

So What Crops Are GMO/BE?

Apple (Arctic™)
Eggplant (BARI Bt Begun varieties)
Papaya (ringspot virus-resistant varieties – Rainbow Payaya)
Pineapple (pink flesh varieties)
Salmon (AquAdvantage®)
Squash (summer)
Sugar Beet
GalSafe Pig (so people with allergies to red meat can eat it)

Not In The US (yet)

Golden Rice (Rice BE with Vitamin A)

Wheat (Approved for commercial in Argentina and Brazil, so far FDA approved for the US, but the USDA hasn’t approved it)

Cavendish Bananas (Being worked on in Australia, to save the variety)

Tomatoes (there has been a GMO variety since 1994 that delays ripening)

Also To Avoid:

Non-local honey (it is often sugar or corn syrup mixed and sold as honey, whitewashed through China). Buy local. Yes, it isn’t cheap. But you are getting the real thing.

The Reality of Crops For Animals:

Most animals are fed GMO crops now (alfalfa, corn, canola meal, and such). Does it transfer? The experts say it doesn’t, but that is open to a lot of deep thoughts. That is one for you to ponder.

How To Identify:

Before this new labeling was required, your only real safety net was knowing your brands, buying US-grown and certified organic food or looking for this third party symbol on your food:

There’s a reason they exist. Look for the logo on food you buy.

Such as cane sugar. Buying sugar labeled “sugar” means you are most likely buying beet sugar, not real cane sugar. 99% of beet sugar is GMO. Look for the 3rd party logo. It’s worth the tiny bit more in money.

Or organic food:

Everything else was a gamble. And it’s easy to believe nothing is an issue if it isn’t marked. So the USDA changed it. However, it isn’t perfect because companies can and do willfully hide it. By following the rules they get away with it.

But remember, your buying organic food is only as good as the company that is selling it. Is the food being imported from trouble regions, that bend rules? (China being the worst example)

Supporting domestic companies and small growers are your best bets.

From USDA’s website.

“Good” companies put this on the label:

Here you know they use BE ingredients. But not what they use (although the corn starch, canola and soybean oils are the biggest chances).

Or just go all out:

I’ll give them this much…they don’t hide it. Can’t say I have any cravings for it…..

Bad companies do this:

This is plain cornstarch. One ingredient. It’s not organic. In the United States corn is one of the top BE crops produced. So you have to assume that it’s going to be modified corn. But there’s no warning.

Oh yeah….there it is….the “Smart Label” they are allowed to put on the item (the QR code). You have to use your camera on your mobile phone to open the page online for it.

Or call the phone number. Now how many people will see that tiny detail, know how to do it, or even do it? If one clicks it…

And there is your answer. That simple. Why not just own it on the box? But they followed the rules so consumers won’t look that deep.

Here is another can with a QR code.

Oh look. The Smart Label webpage has no information at all on it. And I found I hit this over and over on store brands.

Bread seems safe to many people, after all wheat is not GMO (yet).

What a shocker. It’s not corn syrup, but most likely the sugar used (if it doesn’t say cane sugar, it is nearly always beet sugar).

Gelatin….not that I buy it, but I scanned it.

It’s the sugar. Beet sugar.

The worst offender was this company. They had nothing but a phone number. Yes, I called it. And yes, it is GMO corn syrup. And also every pop company selling liquid corn syrup candy with zero marking on it. Unless it’s marked cane sugar, it’s GMO refreshing.

Wash and repeat.

We at least have choices now. Last week the boys and I walked a grocery store and looked at cans, jars, bags and boxes, over and over. We’d look to see how upfront the companies are (General Mills and Campbells are the most open) (Kraft Heinz was not very open, requiring the QR code to find out anything). Store private brands were the worst, some complaint, others having blank Smart Labels. We spent quite some time in the store, so they could understand how it worked.

It doesn’t matter where you shop. Your only choices are to do the footwork and buy the brands that are not cutting corners. The brands that will tell you upfront, and be certified by 3rd party.

This isn’t easy, but if we are willing to change, we can do it. Use your food budget to support companies working hard.