Genetically Modified foods (GM) are food sources that have been genetically altered for a number of different reasons. Those reasons include making fruit and veggies larger and seedless as well as making them resistant to certain kinds of pesticides. Are food products containing genetically modified organisms a health risk? Possibly. Do we want to know if our food is genetically modified? Definitely.
While the DEA has yet to make companies slap labels on foods that straight up let us know they are genetically modified (no thanks in part to biotech giant Monsanto), there is a system in place that can help us make better informed decisions at the market.
By reading the numbers on PLU labels (those little stickers), we can identify whether produce is organic, conventional or genetically modified.
According to Natural Society:
- Conventional Labels: Begin with the number 4, and never begin with the number 9.
- Genetically Modified Labels: Begin with the number 8. This is often a 5 digit number.
- Organic Labels: These labels always contain 5 digits, and begin with the number 9. Always check and make sure, as some “organic” products have been known to be deceptively labeled.
Also, avoid processed food since about 70 percent of all processed foods contain genetically modified ingredients, and the food manufacturers themselves often don’t know for sure whether their products contain GMO.
While the number 8 on PLU distinguishes GM produce from organic or conventional produce, there isn’t any sort of system in place to demand that the sticker actually be placed there. Labeling produce is completely voluntary! So basically, something can be GM, and not have any sort of label attached to it letting you know – especially not a label beginning with the number 8. Grr.