Know What's in Your Food

Promoting awareness and change about the food we eat, and where it comes from.

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The Truth About Orange Juice

Top Selling Orange Juice Brands

Are you one of millions of people who drink orange juice? Did you know that orange juice is not as “all natural” as orange juice companies make them out to be? Did you know that in the near future, oranges could come from genetically modified orange trees?

A carton of orange juice purchased at your local store might lead you to believe that there is nothing in the carton, but fresh squeezed oranges. After all, that is what they claim on the package.

tropican oj back of tropicana

Here is the short story of how orange juice is made:

Millions of oranges collected from different groves that contain several varieties of oranges. Oranges are also collected from different countries to meet the large number of oranges required to make orange juice. Oranges are squeezed and the oxygen is removed from the juice and stored in storage tanks for up to a year. This process removes the flavor of the oranges and it must be reintroduced when it is packaged into cartons and ready for sale. The flavor is reintroduced by adding “flavor packets” to ensure that the (year old) orange juice you are buying tastes just the same as the last carton your bought.

“But actually, there is an important stage in between that is an open secret in the OJ industry. After the oranges are squeezed, the juice is stored in giant holding tanks and, critically, the oxygen is removed from them. That essentially allows the liquid to keep (for up to a year) without spoiling– but that liquid that we think of as orange juice tastes nothing like the Tropicana OJ that comes out of the carton. (source)”

“When the juice is stripped of oxygen it is also stripped of flavor providing chemicals. Juice companies therefore hire flavor and fragrance companies, the same ones that formulate perfumes for Dior and Calvin Klein, to engineer flavor packs to add back to the juice to make it taste fresh. Flavor packs aren’t listed as an ingredient on the label because technically they are derived from orange essence and oil. Yet those in the industry will tell you that the flavor packs, whether made for reconstituted or pasteurized orange juice, resemble nothing found in nature. The packs added to juice earmarked for the North American market tend to contain high amounts of ethyl butyrate, a chemical in the fragrance of fresh squeezed orange juice that, juice companies have discovered, Americans favor. Mexicans and Brazilians have a different palate. Flavor packs fabricated for juice geared to these markets therefore highlight different chemicals, the decanals say, or terpene compounds such as valencine.”

An ABC News article had this to say about America’s fresh squeezed orange juice flavor packets:

“But Alissa Hamilton, a former food and policy fellow at the Institute of Agriculture and Trade, said that modern technology is so “sophisticated” that these flavor pack mixtures “don’t exist in nature.” “They break it down into individual chemicals,” she said. “The flavor of orange is one of the most complex and is made up of thousands of chemicals.”  “They are fine-tuned so each company has its trademark flavor,” said Hamilton, who is author of the 2009 book, “Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice.”.”

These flavor packets are not required by the FDA to be on the ingredient label.

You can watch a video from 60 minutes (here) to learn how these flavor scientists brag about creating a taste that is equal to addiction  to keep the consumer coming back for more.

“The formulas vary to give a brand’s trademark taste. If you’re discerning you may have noticed Minute Maid has a candy like orange flavor. That’s largely due to the flavor pack Coca-Cola has chosen for it. Some companies have even been known to request a flavor pack that mimics the taste of a popular competitor, creating a “hall of mirrors” of flavor packs. Despite the multiple interpretations of a freshly squeezed orange on the market, most flavor packs have a shared source of inspiration: a Florida Valencia orange in spring. (source)”

The future of orange juice….

Lower left carton reads "No GMO Florida's Natural Premium Orange Juice is squeezed from 100% Florida oranges grown with out the use of biotechnology." least for now.

Lower left carton reads “No GMO Florida’s Natural Premium Orange Juice is squeezed from 100% Florida oranges grown with out the use of biotechnology.” …at least for now.

According to an article published by the New York Times In July 2013, the president of southern Gardens Citrus, Ricke Kress, is in charge of two and half million orange trees that produce orange juice. Confronted with a disease called citrus greening, Mr. Kress, so far, has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on producing genetically modified (GMO)orange  trees that would be resistant to citrus greening. Scientists are trying to create a GMO tree by using genes from a pig, a virus, and from a spinach plant. Mr. Kress has received  negative feedback from consumers and citrus growers. Some negative comments that should have been eye-opening to Mr. Kress:

“This isn’t like a bag of Doritos,” snapped another. “We’re talking about a raw product, the essence of orange.”

Mr. Kress was unmoved by such comments. He is anxious to get a GMO orange tree as quickly as possible.  So far the most successful experiment in producing a GMO tree comes from using DNA from a spinach plant. Mr. Kress is growing impatient with the time it will take to grow the GMO tree, produce fruit from the tree, and test the final product for quality and safety. He asked his research director Michael Irey,

“Isn’t there a gene,” Mr. Kress asked Mr. Irey, “to hurry up Mother Nature?”

“When some of the scientist’s promising trees got sick in their first trial, Mr. Kress agreed that he should try to improve on his results in a new generation of trees, by adjusting the gene’s placement. But transgenic trees, begun as a single cell in a petri dish, can take two years before they are sturdy enough to place in the ground and many more years to bear fruit.”

Fortunately, there isn’t such a gene for that at this time…. Mr. Kress chose to speed up the process by grafting branches from his experimental GMO spinach orange trees to existing orange trees.

“But visiting the field gave him some peace. In some rows were the trees with no new gene in them, sick with greening. In others were the 300 juvenile trees

with spinach genes, all healthy. In the middle were the trees that carried his immediate hopes: 15 mature Hamlins and Valencias, seven feet tall, onto which had been grafted shoots of Dr. Mirkov’s spinach gene trees. There was good reason to believe that the trees would pass the E.P.A.’s tests when they bloom next spring. And he was gathering the data the Agriculture Department would need to ensure that the trees posed no risk to other plants. When he had fruit, the

Food and Drug Administration would compare its safety and nutritional content to conventional oranges.”

The good news? When Mr. Kress first started out seeking GMO trees he gave little thought to the consumer. In the beginning of his quest he stated,

“And if the presence of a new gene in citrus trees prevented juice from becoming scarcer and more expensive, Mr. Kress believed, the American public would embrace it. “The consumer will support us if it’s the only way,” Mr. Kress assured his boss.”

As time went on, Mr. Kress has seen the organic moment grow and public awareness as the potential dangers of GMO’s. He now states,

“If we don’t have consumer confidence, it doesn’t matter what we come up with.”

Consumer confidence will be hard to gain with the use of GMO trees. The more consumers are  aware the less likely these big agriculture companies will want to use GMOs in our food. We have to create awareness and know what’s in our food. Please share this post with your friends and family.

Sources: ABC News, New York Times, Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice, Christine Scott Cheng


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The Sick Story of Genetically Modified Organisms

A great documentary that explains the FDA’s involvement..or lack there of in our food.

I thought it was great the way they showed the FDA scientist thought that GMOs were dangerous. Even though the scientist employeed by the FDA spoke out, they were ignored.


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Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Made With Monsanto’s BT Corn

This picture came from GMO Inside. I read about the pesticides they recommended that I Google….here is what I found…..


(Photo courtesy of GMO Inside)

I did, as the photo from GMO Inside suggested, Googled EPA registration#524-581.  I found this link. This link contains the seed product package insert by Monsanto. On the first page at the bottom it says :



I guess it is okay to plant the seeds, and feed the BT corn to your children in the form of Corn Flakes? ….just don’t let them touch the seeds. 😦

According to GM- Free Cymru #68467-7

“SmartStax is a genetically modified (GM) maize that has eight GM traits combined or ‘stacked’ together, six for insect resistance (Bt) and two for herbicide tolerance. Current stacked GM trait crops on the market only have up to three traits each. SmartStax was created through collaboration between Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences [1] SmartStax Corn: Corporate War on Bees, SiS 46), allowing the two corporations to share GM traits. The traits are combined together using crosses between existing transgenic corn lines rather than using genetic transformation of a single maize strain. USDA/APHIS (United States Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) the usual regulator of GM crops approved the crops without an approval process, because the transgenic traits had been granted unregulated status previously, and those traits were combined using conventional breeding. Nevertheless, USEPA (United States Environment Protection Agency) were obligated to regulate the stacked crop varieties containing plant-incorporated protectants (PIPS). EPA invited public comment prior to registration of stacked varieties of corn but they approved SmartStax corn without allowing public comment prior to its registration.”

Corn field

Corn field (Photo credit: Rastoney)

Here is the breakdown of the 8 stacked genes in SmartStax..

“An armoury of transgenes SmartStax has been created by crossing four transgene varieties: MON89034 x 1507 x MON88017 x 59122 [4], which together provide eight traits. The eight traits are accompanied by an array of regulatory sequences derived from bacteria, plant viruses and other plants, are as follows, as far as one can tell, as SmartStax is very poorly characterised, and is in all probability a hybrid corn [5, 6].

Pat (events DAS-59122-7 and TC1507), phosphinothricin N- acetyltransferase (from S.viridochromogenes) for glufosinate herbicide tolerance driven by CaMV 35S promoter, with CaMV 35S 3′ polyadenylation signal as a transcription terminator; two copies of the pat gene and its promoter and terminator are present, one in each of the events DAS-59122-7 and TC1507.

CP4 epsps (event NK603), 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (Agrobacterium tumefaciens CP4) for glyphosate herbicide tolerance , driven by rice actin I promoter, with intron sequences, chloroplast transit peptide from A. thaliana and A. tumefaciens nopaline synthase (nos) 3′-untranslated region terminator The genome has one copy of the NK603 event containing 4 transgenes in one locus.

cry1A.105 (event MON 89034), a chimeric Cry1 delta endotoxin (Bacillus thuringiensis) for insect (Lepidopteron, moth) resistance, driven by CaMV 35S promoter, with 5’untranslated leader from wheat chlorophylla/ b-binding protein, 3′ untranslated region of wheat heat shock protein 17.3 as a transcription terminator. The genome has one copy of the event MON89034 containing 4 transgenes in one locus.

cry2Ab (event MON 89034), Cry2Ab delta endotoxin (Bacillus thuringiensis) for Lepidopteron (moth) resistance, driven by FMV35S promoter from figwort mosaic virus, with Hsp70 intron from maize heat shock protein gene, and .A. tumefaciens nopaline synthase (nos) 3′- untranslated region The genome has one copy of event 89034 containing 4 transgenes in the same locus.

cry3Bb1 (event MON 8801), Cry3Bb1 delta endotoxin (Bacillus thuringiensis subsp.kumamotoensis strain EG4691) for Coleopteran (corn rootworm) resistance, driven by the CaMV 35S promoter with duplicated enhancer region, 5′ UTR from wheat chlorophyll a/b-binding protein, and rice actin gene first intron; transcription is terminated by 3′ UTR from wheat heat shock protein (tahsp17 3′). There is one copy of of event MON8801 in the genome, containing 6 transgenes.

cry1Fa2 (event TC1507), Cry1F delta endotoxin (Bacillus thuringiensis var.aizawai) for Lepidopteron (moth) resistance, driven by the ubiquitin (ubi) ZM (Zea mays) promoter and the first exon and intron; transcription is terminated by the 3′ polyadenylation signal from ORF25 (Agrobacterium tumefaciens). There is one functional copy of the event containing 6 complete transgenes, and 2 partial copies of the event elsewhere in the genome.

cry35Ab1 (event DAS-59122-7), Cry35Ab1 delta endotoxin (Bacillus thuringiensis strain PS149B1) Insect Coleopteran (corn rootworm) Resistance The toxin gene is driven by the Triticum aestivum peroxidase gene root-preferred promoter. The transcription is terminated by the Solanum tuberosum proteinase inhibitor II (PINII) terminator. There is one copy of the cry35Ab1 transgene in the genome.

cry34Ab1(event DAS-59122-7), Cry34Ab1 delta endotoxin (Bacillus thuringiensis strain PS149B1) for Coleopteran (corn rootworm) resistance, driven by the Zea mays ubiquitin gene promoter, intron and 5’UTR; transcription is terminated by the Solanum tuberosum proteinase inhibitor II (PINII) terminator. There is one copy of cry34Ab1 transgene in the genome (note cry34Ab1 and cry 35Ab1 are combined in a single event DAS-59122-7).

The eight main traits in SmartStax corn include at least 34 transgenes. For the most part, the transgenes were developed and patented during the mid 1980s through to the mid 1990s. These old events were combined using traditional plant breeding techniques. The environmental and human safety of the transgenes have never been rigorously established while the regulatory agencies justify the safety of those many transgenes on the basis of the long time in which the transgenes have been used in GM food and feed in the Americas. However, the modified foods were never labelled in the market, making epidemiological studies impossible.”

It sounds like a lot of Franken engineering just to make some corn for cereal!  According to Food Democracy Now, Kellogg’s spent $790,000 on opposing prop 37. Prop 37 would have required foods that contain GMO’s to be labeled. Corn flakes are a rather simple idea. It is hard to imagine all the GMO and bioscience that goes into a simple bowl of cereal. Opt for organic alternatives or another breakfast food altogether.

Sources: GM- Free Cymru, GMO Inside, EPA


Monsanto, The Invisible Giant

English: Monsanto pesticide to be sprayed on f...

English: Monsanto pesticide to be sprayed on food crops.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Monsanto is a giant biotech company that produces genetically modified crops that can be found in most of the foods we see in our grocery stores. They produce seeds that have been genetically modified to be resistant to their pesticide Round Up. Monsanto sells seeds that are genetically modified to be used in conjunction with Round Up pesticide. The result of using Round Up Ready seeds is supposed to be higher yielding crops. There is a debate on how effective these seeds really are. There have been concerns about weeds becoming resistant to the RoundUp pesticide, and as a result more pesticide must be used to produce the same result.

Some of the most popular Monsanto crops include soybeans, corn, sugar beets, and canola. Look at your food labels in the store. Most likely you will find at least one or more of these ingredients on the label.  Alfalfa, cottonseed and papaya are also genetically modified.  The percentage of these crops that are genetically modified may surprise you. Take a look at the percentages for these crops in the United States:

  •   Cottonseed-94
  •   Soy-93%
  •  Canola-90%
  •  Papaya-75%
  •   Sugar beets 54%

When GM crops first appeared in the early 90’s, the FDA did not require safety testing. Instead, the FDA claimed that there was no difference between traditionally grown food and genetically modified food.  However, The FDA’s own scientists strongly disagreed stating the differences between traditional crops and GM were profound, according to the Center for Food Safety. One of the concerns the  FDA scientist  had were about  the toxicity of GMO crops.

“FDA was well aware of the “genetic instability” problem prior to establishing their no-testing policy.  FDA scientists warned that this problem could create dangerous toxins in food and was a significant health risk.  The scientists specifically warned that the genetic engineering of foods could result in “increased levels of known naturally occurring toxicants, appearance of new, not previously identified toxicants, [and] increased capability of concentrating toxic substances from the environment (e.g., pesticides or heavy metals).”  These same FDA scientists recommended that long-term topological tests be required prior to the marketing of GE foods.  FDA officials also were aware that safety testing on the first genetically engineered food, the Calgene Flavr Savr tomato, had shown that consumption of this product resulted in stomach lesions in laboratory rats.

FDA’s response to the potential toxicity problem with genetically engineered foods was to ignore it.”

More often than not it seems as though the FDA is not looking out for us.  Toxicity is not the only concern of GMO crops. Cancer is also a concern. In 1993 the FDA approved the genetically engineered Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), produced by Monsanto, to be used on dairy cows. This hormone increases milk production in cows. The FDA said it was safe because Monsanto said it was safe……that’s right! Monsanto did their own safety testing on 30 lab rats for 90 days, and told the FDA their product was safe. The study was never published and the FDA took their word for it that rBGH was safe. The FDA does not require third-party testing for safety. They put the responsibility of testing on the producer. It is only years later we are finding out that rBGH is linked to colon, prostate, and breast cancer.

Allergies, immune suppression, and loss of nutrition are also problems with genetically modified food.  The FDA still continues to allow GMO’s even with these concerns. One last concern with GMO’s is antibiotic resistance. According to the Center for Food Safety

“Another hidden risk of GE foods is that they could make disease-causing bacteria resistant to current antibiotics, resulting in a significant increase in the spread of infections and diseases in the human population.  Virtually all genetically engineered foods contain “antibiotic resistance markers” which help the producers identify whether the new genetic material has actually been transferred into the host food.  FDA’s large-scale introduction of these antibiotic marker genes into the food supply could render important antibiotics useless in fighting human diseases.  For example, a genetically engineered maize plant from Novartis includes an ampicillin-resistance gene.  Ampicillin is a valuable antibiotic used to treat a variety of infections in people and animals.  A number of European countries, including Britain, refused to permit the Novartis Bt corn to be grown, due to health concerns that the ampicillin resistance gene could move from the corn into bacteria in the food chain, making ampicillin far less effective in fighting a wide range of bacterial infections.

Again, FDA officials have ignored their own scientists’ concerns over the antibiotic resistance problem.  Meanwhile, the British Medical Association (BMA) addressed this problem in its own study of GE foods.  The BMA’s conclusion was unequivocal: “There should be a ban on the use of antibiotic resistance marker genes in GM food, as the risk to human health from antibiotic resistance developing in microorganisms is one of the major public health threats that will be faced in the 21st century.”

Monsanto is a biotech giant that has its toxic greedy hands in the food chain all across the world, and yet to many people, Monsanto is invisible. There are too many of us that don’t know what’s in our food or where it comes from. However, I don’t believe that will be the case for much longer, little by little word of mouth and grass-roots movements will shine the light on this invisible giant for all the world to see.

What you can do to make a difference:

  • Take Action with the Center for Food safety by clicking here.
  • Learn more about how GMO are made by reading my post here.
  • Share this post with social media sites like Facebook to let other people know about Monsanto.
  • Purchase local organic food to keep your diet as free from GMO’s as possible.


Sustainable Table, Center for Food Safety, Healthy Child Healthy World


What is a GMO?

Angry Carrot

What is a GMO?

 A GMO is a plant or animal that has its genes altered to grow in a more favorable way. For example, corn is genetically modified to resist pesticides that farmers use in their crops. The seeds of corn are genetically modified  to work with a particular pesticide. The altered DNA of the corn seed is resistant to the herbicides. When farmers spray for weeds they kill the weeds and not the crops. The biotech companies believe this produces bigger crops( this is highly debatable). However, more and more herbicide is needed to achieve the same results. In turn, we consume more pesticide by eating GMO plants. Plants are also genetically modified to grow in non traditional geographic areas, and tolerate extreme climate conditions such as freeze and droughts.

How are seeds genetically modified?

Scientist force genes from a desired species into another species, by way of cell invasion. The result is a plant or animal created by man…..not by God. To learn more, you can watch a 7 minute video of how this works.

Are GMOs Safe?

There isn’t enough scientific evidence to say that they are. GMOs are created by giant biotech industries like, Monsanto. Many former employees of Monsanto now have positions in key government offices such as the USDA and FDA.  You can see a list of them here. Former Monsanto attorney, Michael Taylor, now works for the FDA creating policy.  The FDA accepts the word of  biotech companies that GMOs are safe. There is no FDA or third party testing for safety required on genetically modified foods.  The FDA says it is the responsibility of biotech companies  to provide their own research that GMOs are safe.  Now what kind of science is that? Biotech companies would be bias to their own product. You can read the FDA’s stance on testing here. Monsanto says that there is no need to test for the safety of GMOs in humans because it would be “impossible”.  You can read Monsanto’s full response here.

How do I know if GMOs are in my food?

Unfortunately, at this time labeling of GMOs is not required on food labels. The biggest GMO crops are corn and soy. Look at your ingredient labels on your food. If you see the word corn or soy in any form, unless it’s organic, chances are you are eating a GMO. Other GMOs include canola oil, cotton, papaya, and Aspartame( made from GMO crops.)

How you can make a difference:

Tell the FDA and  Congress you want foods to be labeled if they contain GMOs. You can click here to sign a petition. Tell your friends and families about GMOs and encourage them to sign.
Try to purchase organic products. Organic products do not use pesticide, so there isn’t a need for genetic modification.
Read food labels and know what’s in your food.  Try to purchase foods that do not contain GMOs.  Remember, most processed foods contain GMOs.
*Source-Co op Stronger Together, Forbes, Monsanto, FDA, Organic Consumer Association, Non GMO Project.