What’s Up Doc?

June 3, 2011 at 2:05 pm Leave a comment

Gentically Modified Organisms
By: Lara Field, MS, RD, CSP, LDN.

Lara Field, MS, RD, CSP, LDN is a pediatric dietitian, and also the owner/founder of her private nutrition consulting practice called FEED – Forming Early Eating Decisions – in Chicago. Specializing in kids’ nutrition, Lara helps clients in managing everything from the picky eater to the child with digestive diseases like celiac disease and food allergies.  Lara not only utilizes creative ways to plan a healthful menu, but also teaches parents techniques that will leave a lasting healthy impression on their children. In addition to private in-home counseling, services include pantry “rehab”, meal preparation training, and grocery store tours. Contact Lara at www.feedkids.com or 847-651-4729.

There is a lot of hype around GMO’s. What are they, why are they made, and the question of their safety is always top on consumer’s minds.  Pediatric nutrition expert, Lara Field, is giving the SQ1 crowd everything we need to know about GMO’s.

What are they?
Genetic Modified Organisms are foods that have an altered DNA, altered in a way that does not naturally occur.

The foods may be infused with vaccines, herbicides, or viruses. According to the US National Agriculture Statistics Service, 95% of sugar beet, 91% of soybean, and 85% of corn seeds planted in 2009 in the US were genetically modified.

GMO’s are made because they are cheaper to produce, as well as a lower cost for consumers.  Initially, they began being produced because of their “resistance against plant diseases caused by insects or viruses or through increased tolerance towards herbicides” (WHO), thus resulting in a higher crop yield, which over time have proved not be the case.  GMO crops did not end up creating higher yields.

Are Genetically Modified Foods safe?
It depends on the crop. The genes in each crop are treated differently. Potential risks vary from the possible production of new allergens, most predominantly, dust mite, rye, ragweed, and cockroach, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, soybeans, and wheat; gene pollution by transferring herbicides or genes to nearby non genetically modified crops, but so far, the Food and Drug administration has reported no risks or dangers posed by genetically modified foods (Lemaux, 2009).  Considering  there is little research on the long-term effects of eating GMOs, it is important for consumers to be cautious.  Various feeding studies in animals have resulted in negative consequences such as pre-cancerous cell growth, immune system damage and organ damage, among other negative consequences.

Genetically Modified Foods to try to avoid:
1.     Soy (including soy flour, soy protein, soy isolates, soy isoflavones, soy lecithin, vegetable proteins, textured vegetable protein (TVP), tofu, tamari, tempeh, and soy protein supplements.)
2.     Cotton and cottonseed oil
3.     Canola
4.     Corn (including corn flour, corn gluten, corn masa, corn starch, corn syrup, cornmeal, and High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

How to tell if you are or are not getting genetically modified foods:

1.     Look for 100% organic foods (organic foods will have a USDA label).  These foods are not GMO foods.

2.     Some foods will have the label “non-GMO” or “Made without genetically modified ingredients.”

3.     Look for the number 9 on the PLU label of your fruits and vegetables; if it is a 5 digit number that starts with a “9”, it is organic, and not genetically modified. If it starts with an “8”, it has been genetically modified

Bottom Line:
Read your ingredient labels! Know what is in the food you are eating, especially what you are feeding your children.

Best in health,



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