PLU’s and GMO

(Updated 02.20.14) Consumer organizations are still fighting for labeling of genetically modified food. In most cases we can only be safe with the purchase of Non GMO Project verified food and organic food, as government regulated standards do not allow genetically modified food items in an organic product.
Knowing PLU codes may help to avoid genetically altered items among fresh produce, nuts and dried fruits. The ‘Price Look-up Code’, is the sticker on your apples and pears. PLU’s can also be found printed on wire wraps that tie your kale or broccoli.

The system, for ‘identifying produce sold in bulk/loose at retail’, was created 1990 in the US to make inventory control easier. In 2001 it was adapted globally. Each new PLU application needs approval of by the International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS) board. Truthful declaration is in the interest of the supplier. Most PLU codes have four digits for conventionally produced goods. Organic produce has a five digit number, starting with ’9′. A five digit number starting with ’8′ marks a genetically modified bulk item. These numbers are supposedly rare.
Below is a table of plants that reportedly contain genetic modification.
Spot tests have shown that GMO products did not have an ‘8’ as a starting number, others which had an ‘8’ or ‘9’ as starting number were neither GMO or organic respectively. The system is flawed and voluntary for the vendor.
Other known gentically modified organisms are microbes to produce f.e. insulin, blood clotting agents and hgh for medical purposes. Transgenic mosquitoes and bollworms are used as pest control. Transgenic mice, fruit flies and jellyfish, even primates are used for scientific and medical research. When scientists play, they create modified colors and glow-in-the-dark pet fish.

Food animals are f.e. the Enviropig (Canada), Cows that produce human breast milk (China) and several species of fish, including salmon, karp and tilapia with increased size. Organic standards, and also no GMO have not been established in fish, a good reason to avoid bigger fish and imported fish. Also, keep an eye on your fish pocket guide. http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/download.aspx
Many other GE foods could be coming soon to a grocery store near you.  These have either been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration or are being considered for approval. Among them: salmon, flax, plums, potato, radicchio, rice, tomato and wheat (FDA 2014).
Plants that are currently known to be genetically modified:  (source Wikipedia 2012)
Food Properties Modification U.S.% World%
Soybeans herbicide resistance herbicide resistant gene inserted 93% 77%
Corn/Maize herbicide resistance vitamin enriched new genes added 86% 26%
Cotton oil pest resistance new gene added  93% 49%
Alfalfa herbicide resistance new genes added  planted 2005-2007. Banned 2011, deregulated
Papaya  certain virus resistance new gene added  80%
Tomatoes delayed softening when ripe new gene added  commercial failure small quantities
grown in China
Canola herbicide resistance new gene added  93% 21%
Sugar Cane pesticide resistance new gene added  ? ?
Sugar Beet herbicide resistance new gene added  ?  ?
Rice contains beta carotine new genes added currently re-developed planned
for 2013
Squash, Zucchini certain virus resistance contains genes of virus 13% ?
Sweet Peppers certain virus resistance contains genes of virus  ? small quantities
grown in China

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