(Beyond Pesticides, October 31, 2012) On Halloween, scarier things then spooky ghouls and goblins may be lurking in places that you don’t expect; places like your child’s candy bag. Over 80% of processed food in the U.S. contains genetically engineered (GE) ingredients, and most major candy products are no exception. As responsible parents and adults, none of us willingly intend to pass out candy that contains GE ingredients to our children, but as it currently stands we don’t have the right to know whether we are or not. However, nobody wants to be “those neighbors” who give out pennies or pamphlets instead. Luckily, alternatives like candy with all organic ingredients can keep trick-or-treaters happy and give you piece of mind.
Halloween candies can contain a wide variety of GE ingredients. According to Green Halloween the top GE ingredients in candy are sugar (GE sugar beets), high fructose corn syrup (GE corn), corn starch (GE corn), soy lecithin (GE soy), soybean oil (GE soy), modified food starch (GE corn), fructose, dextrose, glucose (GE corn, cottonseed oil (GE cotton), and canola oil (GE canola). GE crops have become ubiquitous in U.S. agriculture with 93% of soy, 93% of cotton, and 86% of corn grown in the U.S., according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Studies reveal that GE foods may cause some common toxic effects such as hepatic, pancreatic, renal, or reproductive issues and may alter hematological, biochemical parameters. A recent study also found that the use of herbicides has increased in GE crop production which has led to mounting numbers of herbicide resistant weeds.
As more and more GE crops enter our food supply, it is becoming harder to find food and treats that do not contain GE ingredients. Reading ingredient labels can also be confusing and time consuming when you are shopping at the grocery store. The easiest way to make sure the candy you buy has no GE ingredients is to purchase USDA organic certified products because by law organic food should not contain GE ingredients. Also, by purchasing organic candy you will reduce trick-or-treaters exposure to pesticides.
Shoppers can also use the Green Halloween and the Non-GE project’s “Guide to a Non-GE Halloween” and Veritey’s list of non-GE candy to help you find GE-free candy. Veritey’s founder Amy Ziff also recently put out this list of GE free treats in a Huffington Post article:
1. Endangered Species individually-wrapped chocolates — in dark chocolate, rainforest mint, chocolate cashew and more. These chocolates are good-tasting (some even have nuts), individually-wrapped, and reasonably priced. The company donates 10 percent of net profits to supporting species, habitat and humanity.
2. Maple candies — the positive thing about these treats is that they’re 100 percent made from organic maple syrup, which has some potential health benefits, and is nutritionally better and less processed than refined sugar. However, it’s also still a very sweet sugar to your system. And these candies are not individually-wrapped, so you’ll have to save them for trick-or-treaters you know well.
3. Yummy Gummy Candies — this is a candy that’s free of common allergens like peanut, gluten and soy and is also free of dyes, corn syrup, GEs and more.
4. Annie’s — gummy snacks or pretzels or cheddar crackers in snack-size packs for something savory. All Annie’s items are non-GE.
5. Trader Joe’s Organic Pops –these are individually-wrapped lollipops that use natural food coloring from vegetable colors, specifically red cabbage, purple carrots, tumeric and annatto, to keep their candies real.
For residents of California buying candy that has no GE ingredients could become much easier if proposition 37, which would require mandatory labeling on GE foods, passes in the upcoming November election. This ballot initiative would give Californians the same right that citizens in over 40 countries around the world, including all of Europe, Japan, and China, have that allows them to know if they are eating GE food. This ballot initiative is facing extreme opposition from corporations such as Monsanto, Dupont, Bayer, and other food industry companies who have raised over $35 million to defeat this initiative, compared to the $4 million raised by the propositions supporters. This flood of corporate money has tightened the race. According to California polls, support for proposition 37 has gone from a 2-1 margin in support for the initiative to a close 44% in favor and 42% opposed.
This tightening of the race is a testament to the problems of corporate money in politics. A March survey revealed that 91% of consumers favor labeling for GE foods, with 81% of those ”˜strongly’ in favor of enacting these requirements. Given the current partisan divide in the country, this represents a remarkable consensus from consumers.
If you’d like more information on choosing foods without pesticides and GE ingredients, visit our guide to Eating With a Conscience.
Source: The Huffington Post
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.