Friday, May 20, 2011

How Not To I.D. Genetically Modified Food at the Supermarket

UPDATE - Thanks to commenters Scott and jay for providing links pointing out that this PLU number can be used to identify GMO was an idea that was created to implement by grocers so they could differentiate their own produce, but because GMO labeling is voluntary, nobody uses it because the popular backlash against GMO is so strong, they know any PLU label that began with 8 would reduce sales.

Ah well, looks like I'll have to stick to farmer's markets for produce if I want to be 100% certain to avoid GMO. I'm leaving it posted so other people recognize it as misinformation as well.

For those of you who care about whether or not you're eating GMO Frankenfoods, this article I came across via Strike-the-Root gives us the following info:

Not many consumers realize that the FDA does not require genetically modified food to be labeled. That’s because the FDA has decided that you, dear consumer, don’t care if the tomato you’re eating has been cross bred with frog genes to render the tomato more resistant to cold weather. Some consumers may not be concerned with eating Frankenfood, but for those who are, here’s how to determine if the fruits and vegetables you’re buying are (GM) genetically modified.

Hat tip to Marion Owen for her valuable information. Here’s how it works:

How To I.D. Genetically Modified Food at the Supermarket =

For conventionally grown fruit, (grown with chemicals inputs), the PLU code on the sticker consists of four numbers. Organically grown fruit has a five-numeral PLU prefaced by the number 9. Genetically engineered (GM) fruit has a five-numeral PLU prefaced by the number 8.

For example:

A conventionally grown banana would be: 4011

An organic banana would be: 94011

A genetically engineered (GE or GMO) banana would be: 84011

These tips are specially important now that over 80% of all processed foods in the US are genetically modified. Many countries in the European Union have been banning GM products and produce (including Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary and Luxembourg). We say “Eat healthy, buy or grow organic”.

I always just assumed that by going paleo, and avoiding processed foods as much as possible would mean one would also avoid GMO foods. I did not realize that GMO produce has already infiltrated the marketplace. I thought GMO was largely confined to corn, wheat and soy crops to allow them to thrive under repeated pesticide spraying.

I will definitely be looking at the PLU's the next time I'm in a grocery store shopping for produce.


ScottS said...

I've been in the alternative agriculture industry selling meat, veggies, etc for over 10 years. This immediately smelled fishy, and it turns out it is an urban legend.

If you want to avoid GMOs don't buy meat or grain from grocery stores. Most veggies and fruits are simply hybridized rather than GMOs, and most people don't really know the difference.

If you want good food, the only really reliable way to get it is to grow it yourself. Or pay someone a crapload of money to grow it for you.

jay c said...

Here's another site: PLU Codes Don't Indicate GMO.

Dave said...

I recommend downloading this non-gmo shopping guide and using it.

Dave said...

Oops, here is the link

Timothy Reed said...

Here's one more recent article on identifying GM produce at grocery stores.