Carol Steele, Lawrence looks at some grapes Monday at the Merc Co-op, 901 Iowa St., which has many GMO-free options.

Carol Steele, Lawrence looks at some grapes Monday at the Merc Co-op, 901 Iowa St., which has many GMO-free options.


Carol Steele, Lawrence looks at some grapes Monday at the Merc Co-op, 901 Iowa St., which has many GMO-free options.

Hilary Brown goes the extra mile in making sure there are no genetically modified organisms in her Hilary's Eat Well veggie burgers, even if that involves spending more money or using less readily available ingredients.

"We want to make products that make people feel good after they eat," said the Lawrence business owner. "GMO foods were introduced to the American public without anyone's knowledge of it and without a tremendous amount of research being done."

All the products sold at Hilary's Eat Well are free of GMOs, part of a growing movement in Lawrence and elsewhere to rid the food supply of genetically altered ingredients, which can be found in most of the processed food sold in America. An estimated 90 percent of the commodity crops (corn, soybeans, etc.) in the U.S. are genetically modified to withstand certain pests and diseases.

How to be GMO-free in Lawrence

To buy foods without GMOs, look for a label from either the Non-GMO Project or from the U.S. Department of Agriculture certifying the product as organic.

All the produce at Natural Grocers, 1301 W. 23rd St., is organic and thus free of GMOs, as are many of the fruits and vegetables sold at the Merc Co-op, 901 Iowa St. Checkers, 2300 Louisiana St., as well as Hy-Vee and Dillons (both have multiple Lawrence locations), also have organic options available.

Lawrence-based Hilary's Eat Well sells GMO-free veggie burgers. Pines International of Lawrence sells wheat grass, beet juice, barley grass and alfala without GMOs.

Certified organic farms, of which there are several in the Lawrence area, also don't use GMOs.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has ruled that GMOs are safe for humans to eat. But that hasn't stopped skeptics from foregoing genetically altered products.

"It just stands to reason that you don't want to be eating poison in your food," noted Ron Seibold, president of Pines International, a Lawrence-based producer of non-GMO wheat grass, beet juice and alfalfa.

Seibold said crops genetically modified to withstand pesticide are, in turn, being sprayed with increasing amounts of chemicals. That's why he says it's best to eat organic food, even if is often more expensive.

"How do you measure expense when you're talking about cancer or Parkinson's disease?" he said, adding that the effects of GMOs may not be realized for decades to come. "I guess we'll have to wait and see what we human guinea pigs look like in another 20 years."

Marty Glenn, a nutrition lecturer at Kansas University, says that from a nutrition standpoint there isn't any known difference between eating natural and GMO foods.

"I don't think there's been any good, solid evidence that it's harmful necessarily, but that doesn't mean it might not cause issues," such as food allergies, he said. "But I think at this point it's all just speculation. There's really not been the hard evidence out there to say these things are a real issue."

But Julie D'Auteil, a Lawrence health and wellness coach, says the body's digestive system trying to process GMOs is like two people trying to have a conversation in different languages.


Like these snack bars sold at the Merc Co-op, 901 Iowa St., many products now carry labels indicating that they don't contain genetically modified organisms.

"That's exactly what the cells do with the GMOs: They don't communicate," she said. "At the cellular level, our bodies don't know what to do with them. That's when things go haywire."

While the science, at least in America, has yet to come up with a definitive answer on the health risks of GMOs, many people aren't waiting around for an answer.

"We've adapted to a lot of things, our bodies have," D'Auteil added. "But adapting to GMOs is one I don't see happening. I see us growing a tail first."


Chris Golledge 4 years, 5 months ago

While I am against eating pesticides, that doesn't have anything intrinsically to do with whether or not the genes of what I'm eating have been altered in a lab, as a result of hundreds of years of human selection, or billions of years of natural mutations.

My stomach is capable of dealing with millions of DNA combinations from all six life kingdoms. I seriously doubt that the handful of new DNA combinations that people have created will somehow avoid being broken down into amino acids the same as everything else.

Ron Seibold 4 years, 5 months ago

Scut Farkus, you are apparently unaware that most genetic modifications are "designed" to make the plants tolerant of the herbicide poison, Round Up. Further, new genetic modifications are being marketed that make the plant tolerant of the herbicide poison, 2,4-D, which was the main component in Agent Orange. In addition farmers often use other herbicides prior to planting. These are all poisons and meet the definition of poison. The EPA has acknowledged that these poisons are in GMO food and has increased the allowable levels several times since these poison-tolerant modifications were first used. That's because as weeds evolve and become more tolerant of the poison, farmers often have to use several poison applications to kill the "superweeds" that are evolving. The tolerance weeds are developing is also why new genetically-modified varieties are being developed to withstand applications of the poisonous component of Agent Orange

You are wrong about there being "more nutrition" in plants modified to tolerate poison. There are no studies that show any additional nutrition with GMO foods modified to tolerate poison. There is some indication that other modifications, such as one used for a variety of rice, might improve nutrition, but the modification was made specifically for that purpose. The FDA has clearly stated there is "no difference in nutrition" for grains genetically modified to tolerate poison, not that there is more nutrition. Poison residue is another matter, and the FDA has not addressed that issue. The concerns with the poison residue are being handled by the EPA, which has simply increased the amount of allowable poison in foods several times since these poison-tolerant modifications first entered our food supply.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 5 months ago

Locally produced tofu and tempeh by Central Soyfoods are also GMO free by choice. All Central Soyfoods ingredients are certified organic. These products are a good protein substitute for meat and a better bang for the buck as well.

A question that deserves recognition is about which sources of meat are being fed GMO corn or whatever. The big food giants seem to be winning congress over so as to avoid labeling everything you need to know about the food we eat. Shame on congress.

If one chooses to eat meat best go with organic.

Mark Rainey 4 years, 5 months ago

Are some organic foods allowed to be genetically modified through "brute force radiation" methods? Is it common?

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