Genetically modified organisms have permeated much of the crop industry, absolutely infesting the processed food market, but are many ‘health’ supplements free from the presence of GMOs? As it turns out, major supplement producers actually will openly admit that they derive many of their formulas from GMO crops — consumers just aren’t really paying attention!
If you know much about Monsanto or the prevalence of GMOs, you are likely aware that a large majority of corn (about 80-95% of the entire crop in the US, if not more, depending on what research you follow) is genetically modified. Being responsible for 90% of the US GM seed market, Monsanto has done its very best to create a genetically altered monopoly on the food supply. This is where the supplement factor comes in.
As you may or may not be aware, wildly popular substances like vitamin C are usually extracted from corn — one of the leading GMO crops in the US. It is from this that the question immediately comes into focus: could supplement makers be using GMO corn to create vitamin C supplements? What about the countless other formulas that can extract from GM foods as a source. And when you consider GMO-containing ‘food’ can legally be labeled as ‘natural’ under current regulations, what ‘natural’ supplements could be based on Monsanto’s GMO crops?
As it turns out, this is indeed the case. While it is impossible to compile a full list without a large amount of financial investment for testing every brand, what we do know is that major producers have explained how they usually will list ‘Non-GMO’ on their GMO-free options. In other words, chances are vitamin C may be extracted from GMO corn unless it is stated to be organic, non-GMO, or specifically not extracted from a non-GMO source. In reality, many reputable supplement companies have already begun listing their high quality products with the ‘GMO-free’ label and other quality re-assurances.
Some, however, continue to source GMO or ‘potentially GMO’ corn. If you’re like me, this is a gamble that you are not willing to take.
An investigator researching for this piece actually got in contact with NOW, a leading supplement producer. They asked about how they extract their vitamin C products when considering the high percentage of GM corn that currently supplies the industry. Concerned for their health and the health of consumers, worldwide, they wanted to know if they were swallowing GMOs — or at least vitamins derived from GMOs. In response to their inquiry, a NOW team member replied:
“All of our C is derived from standard corn not certified to be non-GMO… Many products [in the industry at large] contain soy or corn derivatives which are generally GMO’d. We are motivated towards non-GMO-sourced products.”
The NOW Science & Nutrition Group rep then included some information from their Technical Director Michael Lelah, which talks about how NOW is generally opposed to genetic manipulation of the food supply but does not specifically use non-GMO sources for all of their products. The excerpt from Lelah which the rep said was copied from a blog ‘Natural Is Better’, reads:
“Genetic Modification: NOW is opposed to genetic modification, because there are real and unknown harmful effects. Unfortunately, much of the world’s supply of corn and soybeans is genetically modified which is why we continue to offer more products that are certified GMO-free.”
An interesting statement when also considering that NOW sites on the council for the Non-GMO Project. But what does this mean for the industry? NOW products are taken by thousands (or more likely millions) of health conscious individuals worldwide, and are considered to be of higher quality than many other brands. Now, to be clear, I am not bashing NOW and ignoring other brands. I really have nothing against NOW in particular, but their openness to GMOs within their products is truly problematic. Just imagine the quality of sourcing for pharmacy vitamin C brands that contain more fillers and additives than imaginable.
But what do we do with this information? What do we do about it? Quite simply, it’s time to raise the standard. It’s time to let people know that their supplements are being sourced from GMOs, and it’s time to change that. This article is going to make a lot of manufacturers mad, possibly to the point of threats and exile, but this issue is more important than hurt feelings. We can’t sit idle while Monsanto creeps its way into the supplement industry, relishing as many health conscious consumers think they are aiding their bodies.
Raising the Standard | GMO-Free Supplements A Necessity
The answer to the GMO sourcing within the supplement industry is a consumer-mandated shift towards non-GMO alternatives. Not ‘natural’ or ‘potentially GMO-free’ alternatives, but certified non-GMO, preferably organic-containing, health products. Sure, non-GMO certifications have room for error.
It’s possible that some sketchy businesses can even slip past the regulations (particularly when considering cheap Chinese certifications), but it’s a start to progress the process forward as well. We are not even at the point where we can further accelerate the validity of GMO-free certifications when people aren’t even aware that they are consuming them in the first place.
So how is this done?
First, we need to blast this information out and E-mail every major supplement brand and ask if they ever source from GMO crops. Ask them point blank, and post the result in the comments, your blog, Facebook, Twitter, everywhere. Blast it out, get it out there. Force them to change or lose sales. Force them to begin sourcing 100% non-GMO or face massive customer loyalty changes.
We’ve seen this work time and time again, with companies removing everything from BPA to high-fructose corn syrup in a bid to retain customers. We’ve even seen this with civil liberties issues going public and turning into a demand for answers from government officials.
It’s an aggressive way of raising the bar, but it’s also essential to eliminating GMOs from this fairly new arena that virtually no one is talking about. It’s possible to cut this issue at the root as long as we make it a big deal. Monsanto’s GMO contamination has no place in our supplements, food, or really anything else.