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What are GMO Foods? | Get Answers

What are GMO Foods? If your like me you are very interested in what is going on with our food. It seems daily we here more news in the whole GMO arena. Regardless of the source it all seems a bit confusing. We have decided to tackle it for you. What are GMO Foods?
A GMO, or genetically modified organism, is a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified in a laboratory using genetic engineering or transgenic technology. This creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
Genetic modification affects many of the products we consume on a daily basis. As the number of GMOs available for commercial use grows every year, the Non-GMO Project works diligently to provide the most accurate, up-to-date standards for non-GMO verification.
In order for a product to be Non-GMO Project Verified, its inputs must be evaluated for compliance with our standard, which categorizes inputs into three risk levels:
What are GMO Foods?

Risk Level Definition Examples


The input is derived from, contains derivatives of, or is produced through a process involving organisms that are known to be genetically modified and commercially available. Alfalfa, Canola, Corn, Cotton, Papaya, Soy, Sugar beet, Yellow summer squash / zucchini, Animal products, Microbes and enzymes


The input is not derived from, does not contain derivatives of, or is not produced through a process involving organisms that are presently known to be genetically modified and commercially available. Lentils, Spinach, Tomatoes, Sesame seeds, Avocados


The input is not derived from biological organisms and not susceptible to genetic modification.
There are only several GM crops that are widely available commodity crops that often get further processed into a variety of ingredients. These high-risk ingredients are typically present in packaged products as:
Amino acids, alcohol, aspartame, ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, citric acid, sodium citrate, ethanol, flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), high-fructose corn syrup, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, lactic acid, maltodextrins, molasses, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sucrose, textured vegetable protein (TVP), xanthan gum, vitamins, vinegar, yeast products.

Animal-Derived Products – HIGH RISK

The Non-GMO Project Standard considers animal-derived products such as meat, dairy, eggs and honey to be high risk due to the prevalence of GMOs in animal feed. Cloned animals and their progeny are considered to be GMOs under the standard, as are the products of synthetic biology.

What Are GMO Foods?

What Foods Are Genetically Modified?

With the debate continuing to swirl around genetically modified foods (GMO’s), consumers and shoppers are left confused about shopping for food and how to best feed their families.  While it may not be a possible to avoid GMO’s completely, knowing the most common foods with GMO’s may help navigate the grocery store aisles better. Unfortunately, unless a food is now labeled organic or non-GMO verified, then chances are that it does contain genetically modified organisms.
Here the most common genetically modified foods on our shelves today:

What are GMO Foods?

1. Corn (field & sweet) | What are GMO Foods?

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The GM version of field corn protects the crop against corn rootworms and the Asian corn borer. Like GM field corn, GM sweet corn also protects the crop against destructive pests.

Corn is one of the larger genetically modified food sources, with the majority of field corn in the US from genetically modified seeds.  Recently, sweet corn joined the fray of GMO’s as Monsanto introduced its variety of this American favorite.  The two most common varieties of sweet corn that are genetically modified include Syngenta’s Attribute sweet corn and Monsanto’s Performance series.  If you want non-GMO corn, look for the label, USDA certified organic, as the only guarantee that your corn is not genetically modified.

2. Soybeans | What are GMO Foods?

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The GM soybean plant is resistant to pests and disease as well as being tolerant of herbicides that are most effective, allowing for less herbicide use overall.

As of 2007, 91% of the soy planted in the United States is genetically modified, making soy the largest genetically modified food source in the US.  The US is also one of the largest exporters of soy.  Soy is used in many ways – from soybeans as a protein source to ingredients like soy lecithin and emulsifiers used to thicken and preserve food and soybean oil for cooking. The health benefits of soy continue to be debated, but the best soy is again labeled clearly that it is organic and is fermented. Choose soy foods like tempeh or tofu and read your edamame labels carefully.

3. Cotton | What are GMO Foods?

GM cotton requires fewer pesticides and protects against the cotton bollworm.

4. Canola

What are GMO Foods?

Canola has been modified through biotechnology to make it tolerant to some herbicides. This allows for a reduced amount of chemicals needed for weed control. The modified plant also has resistance to pests and fungus. Almost 93% of canola oil from canola seeds is genetically modified.  Canola oil is derived from the rapeseed plant, a plant whose health benefits are contested.  Canola oil is a processed oil, going through multiple steps to be shelf stable. It is an oil that can easily become rancid, attracting mold when in baked and processed goods.  Avoid canola oil and opt for healthier cooking oils like olive, grapeseed or coconut instead.

5. Alfalfa | What are GMO Foods?


The GM version of alfalfa is tolerant of some herbicides, allowing for a reduced amount of chemicals needed for weed control.

What are GMO Foods?

6. Sugar Beets | What are GMO Foods?

The GM sugar beet has increased tolerance to some herbicides, allowing for a reduced amount of chemicals needed for weed control. GM sugar beets also have virus and pest resistance traits.

All sugar beets and sugar beet products are now genetically modified in the United States. Sugar beet farmers voted to adopt GMO beets as a unanimous decision, leaving no non-GMO beet options in the United States.  Most beets are grown in the Willamette Valley in Oregon.  This decision impacts sugar, as well, since almost 50% of sugar in the United States comes from sugar beets.  We will all have to pay attention to labels and buy certified organic sugar and stay away from beets!

7. Papaya | What are GMO Foods?

The GM version of papaya makes the plant resistant to the prevalent Papaya Ringspot Virus. I was disappointed to learn that papaya is genetically modified.  Genetically modified papaya trees were introduced to Hawaii in 1999. This healthy fruit also needs to be screened in grocery stores for appropriate labeling and sourcing.

What are GMO Foods?8. Squash | What are GMO Foods?

GMO squash has traits that improve the plant’s defense against viruses.

There are three main types of genetically modified squash produced by Monsanto’s brand Seminis. These include yellow crookneck squash, yellow straightneck squash, and green zucchini.  There are non-GMO varieties of squash available as well.
Pay attention to these ten commonly genetically modified foods.  For many of us, we don’t want to risk the debate on the ramifications of genetically modified foods. The many animal studies on GMO’s are disturbing enough and motivation to know our grocer’s suppliers and farmers.

9. Arctic Apple | What are GMO Foods?

Developed by Okanagan Specialy Fruits of British Columbia, Canada, this new fruit was developed by turning off the enzyme in apples that cause them to brown when cut, bruised or bitten.

10. Potato/Innate Potato | What are GMO Foods?

This new potato  (Innate) that resists browning and has fewer unsightly wasteful bruises has been approved by the USDA for commercial planting.

Genetically modified potatoes hit the market in 2015, with the Russet and Atlantic potatoes produced by Simplot the most commonly available varieties.  Many food manufacturers are not using GMO potatoes, including Con Agra and McCain.  Pick your potatoes wisely, and look for supplier information from your local grocery store.

What are GMO Foods?

11. Aquabounty Salmon | What are GMO Foods?


This new salmon is genetically engineered to reach market size more quickly than non-GE farm-raised Atlantic salmon.

Note: Arctic apples, Innate potatoes and Aquabounty Salmon have all been approved but are not yet available to consumers.

12. Rice

Rice has also been subject to genetic modification, with a variety of different genes overexpressed – some with the intent to make up for nutritional deficiencies.  Some varieties include overexpression of genes to increase the iron content of rice while golden rice contains added vitamin A to address this micronutrient deficiency through Africa and Asia.  The US again leads efforts on bio-engineered rice.

13. Tomato

Genetically modified tomatoes were the first GMO food to hit the market in the early ’90s. These tomatoes did well initially but did not flourish as well as was hoped.  There are continued efforts to hybridize tomatoes, but currently, very few tomatoes are genetically modified compared to just a decade ago.

14. Milk | What are GMO Foods?

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Dairy from cows injected with r-BGH,  a compound that increases growth hormone in cows, has been shown to be a higher risk of cancers and fraternal twin births than non r-BGH cows.  Many schools are trying to pull away from r-BGH milk, while as parents, the best we can do is to continue reading labels.  Companies like Organic Valley offer non-GMO dairy options.

Summary | What Are GMO Foods?

 For those who care about what they and those around them eat often find many events discouraging. For those of us in the U.S. it seems the system has been negligent in looking out for citizens they are entrusted to protect.
This article has outlined some of the concerns and alternatives available to protect themselves and others with this information. Many for various reasons are completely unaware of the concerns others are well versed in. Understand the seriousness of the dangers mentioned in this article? Share this article or some of the information.
As with most experiences we will be looking back thinking “It was worse than I thought”. Just the way things go.

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What are GMO Foods?

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