Sunday, May 15, 2011

How to Avoid Genetically-Modified Food

PLU Code on Bananas
Today, seven out of every 10 items on grocery stores shelves contain ingredients that have been genetically modified. In other words, scientists are using new technology to transfer the genes of one species to another, and these altered foods are in the market stream. And yet many scientists have concerns about the safety -- to people, wildlife and the environment -- of this process. That's why consumers in Asia and Europe are demanding that their food be free of genetically modified ingredients. Talking Fruit. How to Tell if Fruit is Genetically Modified Marion Owens

The United States, not so much.

As reported by Maria Gallagher, in the June 26, 2002 issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer, by reading the PLU code, you can tell if the fruit was genetically modified, organically grown or produced with chemical fertilizers, fungicides, or herbicides.

Here's how it works:
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

The numeric system was developed by the Produce Electronic Identification Board, an affiliate of the Produce Marketing Association, a Newark, Delaware-based trade group for the produce industry. As of October 2001, the board had assigned more than 1,200 PLUs for individual produce items.

 
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