Food For Thought

GMOs 101: Genetically Modified Organisms

Kayla Sheely, 04/15/2015

If you ate anything processed today, you most likely digested food that has been genetically modified. In fact, about 80% of processed foods in America contain ingredients that have been genetically engineered (GE). Corn, soybeans, and cottonseed are the biggest crops in America that are genetically modified. GMO stands for genetically modified organism, and is used to classify foods that have had their DNA altered, usually to make them resistant against certain pesticides or improve desirable qualities.

While no long-term studies have been done on the effects of GMOs, many people choose to avoid them because they believe GMOs are harmful and have potential health risks. More than 60 countries restrict, ban, or require GMO products to be labeled.


However, no labeling is required for foods containing GMOs in America. Some brands are taking initiative on their own and enrolling their products to be verified in the Non-GMO Project. The Non-GMO Project is a nonprofit aiming to bring transparency to the food industry by giving consumers the information they need to make educated food decisions.


Additionally, products certified as organic by the USDA are prohibited from having GMOs. According to the USDA, “an organic farmer can’t plant GMO seeds, an organic cow can’t eat GMO alfalfa or corn, and an organic soup producer can’t use any GMO ingredients. To meet the USDA organic regulations, farmers and processors must show they aren’t using GMOs and that they are protecting their products from contact with prohibited substances, such as GMOs, from farm to table.” 


If you choose to avoid GMOs in your diet, here are a few tips to avoid them while shopping:

  • Check out the Non-GMO Project’s list of high risk and monitored crops here.  
  • Look for the Non-GMO Project Verified seal or the USDA certified organic logo.
  • Stay on the outer edges of the grocery store. Since most processed foods contain GMOs, sticking with fruits and vegetables will help eliminate most of them.
  • Shop at stores like Whole Foods Market that are committed to GMO labeling

Do you choose to avoid GMOs in your diet? Are there any tips you have for avoiding them?

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