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Read Labels Carefully to Avoid Toxins

Canola and soybean oils might be tasty on your salad, but apparently they are so effective at killing bugs that they are used as the key active ingredients in pesticide products as well. Take a look at the back of the label of a year-round pesticide product, Vegol , and you'll find that 96 percent of it is canola oil.

Bayer , the company that makes aspirin also makes a "natural" insect killing product called Natria for home pest control that, as Bayer describes it, "kills on contact." The active ingredient? Soybean oil.

Again, pay attention to product labels. You'll find product warnings such as, "Caution: avoid contact with skin or clothing, "or, "Call a poison control center or doctor for treatment advice." Then there are the following eye-openers: "Environmental hazards: do not apply directly to water..." "Do not contaminate water when disposing of equipment," and so many more disturbing cautions.

Canola oil is a genetically modified (GM) food that has been classified as a bio pesticide by the Environmental Protection Agency. Not only is it found in almost all fast foods and convenience foods, it is also an ingredient in products such as chocolate, candies, bread, potato chips, baby foods and formulas, most peanut butters and cookies, frozen French fries, rye breads, chocolate syrups, mayonnaise, granola bars, some vegetarian convenience foods, lunch meats, margarines, movie house snacks, tortillas and most other bakery foods.

Soybean oil is also genetically modified and found in packaged processed foods.

Suffice it to say, canola and soybean oil are ubiquitous in the U.S. food supply. If you eat in restaurants most likely you're eating GM canola oil. And I'm not just talking about family and chain restaurants. Canola is cheaper than other oils and many upscale restaurants use it as well.

If you eat packaged processed food that is not organic, you are most likely eating GM soybean oil and other GM crops, such as soy, corn, cotton (for cottonseed oil) and canola. The question is, if these oils are so effective at killing bugs and are harmful to pets, skin and the environment, why are we eating them on a daily basis?

How can you protect yourself? For starters, avoid fast food like the plague. If you're eating out, call ahead to the restaurant and ask them what oils they use. Ask them if they have other oils available. Avoid packaged processed food that is not organic and limit the organic packaged, processed food you do eat.

Geri Zatcoff, M.S., M.S.Ed., C.N.S., H.F.S., is a clinical nutritionist, food activist and educator. She has lived in Harrison and has clients throughout Westchester County. Please feel free to write and questions and comments here, and Geri will respond.

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