Why You CANNOT Count on Produce Digit Codes to Identify GMOs
The Myth Behind the Codes
The myth of PLU codes and GMO foods - Mankato Green Culture | Examiner.com 10/22/12 9:35 AM
The myth of PLU codes and GMO foods
SOCIETY & CULTURE AUGUST 24, 2010 BY: ALICIA BAYER
Do you look for the four or five digit code on your produce to help avoid GMO (http://www.examiner.com/topic/gmo) foods? You'll find lots of advice online telling you to do just that, but there's one problem -- it's pretty much complete nonsense.
Many sites online will tell you to look for this code in order to know what you're buying. Find a number that starts with a 9, for instance, and the food is organic. Find a number that starts with an 8, and it's GMO.
While it's true that fresh produce in supermarkets is labeled with a code to
help identify it, this code is meant to help retailers with inventory, pricing and identification. The use of that 8 or 9 is completely optional.
Suppliers can choose to label their produce as organic or GMO. In the case of organics, they will obviously choose to add that extra digit since consumers tend to pay extra and seek out organic produce. In the case of GMO foods, it is incredibly rare for any supplier to add the 8 to the front of the code -- whether the food is GMO or not.
As Jeffrey Smith of the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-smith/plu-codes-do-not- indicate_b_473088.html) reported:
I called the International Federation for Produce Standards, which oversees the numeric code system, to verify this. An employee confirmed that suppliers can choose to leave the 8 off. She told me, "You could. It's a voluntary system. But if you see the 8 then you know it's a GMO item."
For more information about the PLU system, see this guide (http://www.scribd.com/doc/19745617/IFPSPlu- Codes-Users-Guide) put out by the IFPS.
So how can you avoid GMO foods? Four steps you can take are:
In our family, we pay extra for organic corn in stores and purchase it fresh from a farmer out of Windom who sells at the Worthington farmers' market on Tuesday afternoons. At $4 a dozen ears for heirloom, Japanese and organic varieties, it's well worth the small price to us. We also pay extra for organic corn products such as tortilla chips, avoid any soy products that are not labeled organic or non-GMO and rely on our garden and trusted suppliers as much as possible.
Remember, knowledge is power, but only if you're using accurate knowledge! Forget about looking for tiny numbers on your produce and find better ways to know just what you're eating.
Alicia Bayer, Mankato Green Culture Examiner
Alicia Bayer lives in Westbrook with her husband and five children. She's passionate about protecting our environment and enjoys organic gardening, all natural cooking, holistic health and living well on less. Follow Alicia on Twitter @magicandmayhem and on Facebook at All Natural
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