When buying produce, most people pay attention to whether the fruits and vegetables appear fresh and ripe. However, it is also important to examine the stickers on produce. Each sticker will contain a product code that gives you valuable information about the origin of the produce that you are looking at. This four or five digit code can tell you what type of pesticides was used while growing the produce and even let you know about the genes of the produce.
What Does it Mean if a Sticker Number Starts With an Eight?
If the number code on a sticker is five digits long and starts with an eight, then this means that the produce is a genetically modified organism. For example, if the product code is 4011, then the item is a basic banana, but if the code is 84011, it is a banana that has been genetically modified. This means that the genetic material of the banana was altered in a lab, and then the altered banana was used to grow an entire crop of bananas. Produce is often modified to be resistant to insects or to grow larger sweeter crops.
Are Genetically Modified Organisms Bad?
There is a great deal of debate about whether or not genetically modified organisms are unhealthy. The technology to modify the genes of plants is relatively new, so there is not much information on the long-term effects of eating modified produce. Some genetically modified potatoes and corn were shown to create toxins that harmed developing rat fetuses, but these products never reached the market. All genetically modified foods go through rigorous testing before they are put on the market, and most scientists believe that they are generally safe for consumption.
However, there is a major concern that modification can result in the creation of new allergens. They may not be noticeable at first, but these allergens might trigger people to build up an intolerance, eventually resulting in health problems. The most commonly genetically modified produce items are corn, yellow squash, zucchini, beets, soy, and papaya.
Do Other Sticker Numbers Mean Anything?
Most product codes are four digit numbers that start with a three or a four. This means that it is a non-modified, conventionally grown crop. Pesticides are typically used to grow fruits and vegetables that start with a three or four, so you need to wash them thoroughly before eating them. If the produce item has a five-digit code that starts with a nine, then it is an organic, non-modified piece of produce. Organic produce is grown without pesticides, antibiotics, or growth hormones, so there are fewer risks of toxic chemicals. It might cost a little more to buy organic produce, but it is often worth it.
Eating genetically modified produce has not been shown to cause any adverse health effects. However, many people worry that produce could pass lab safety tests even though there might be a hidden, long-term health issue, so it might be wise to avoid a genetically modified food just to be on the safe side. Whenever possible, you should try to eat unmodified, organically grown produce, because it is healthier and more natural.