GMO Invades the Produce Section

by Catherine Haug

I think it’s safe to say that most people in our ESP community do not want to consume genetically modified/engineered foods. We turned away from rGBH milk products; we wrote letters of protest against GMO alfalfa and sugar beets; we seek out Organically raised soy, wheat and corn to avoid GMO versions.

But now we have even more reason to be wary of GMO foods: they have invaded the produce section of our local grocery stores. For example, zucchini and crookneck squash, and papaya from Hawaii may contain GMO protein for virus resistance.

Check out the GMO-Compass website for more information about GMO trials and approvals for cultivation and/or foodstuffs in the US, Canada and the EU. You can use their GMO Database to search by food.

Know Your Farmer

The best way to assure yourself and your family that your meals are GMO-free, is to raise your own, or buy from a grower you trust. Then cook your own foods from scratch using only raw ingredients (no processed ingredients).

Topics in this post:

  • Foods that are GMO or contain GMO ingredients
  • What’s Safe from GMO?
  • Resources (Links for more information)

Foods that are GMO or contain GMO ingredients


Any food NOT labeled 100% Organic is suspect; processed foods such as chips and other snacks, cookies, boxed cereals, etc are highly suspect. Meat, dairy and eggs from animals raised in CAFOs (Confinement Animal Feeding Operations) are highly suspect because they are fed GMO soy and corn feed.

It’s best to check the labels of all processed foods not labeled 100% Organic – or avoid processed food altogether.

Even Some Organics

Some foods containing more than one ingredient (processed foods) and labeled “organic” may contain GMO, too. There are 3 levels of Organic certification:

  • “Made with Organic” (6-30% NOT organic);
  • “Organic” (up to 5% not Organic); and
  • “100% organic.

Only those labeled 100% Organic are safe from GMOs.  Consider this: some GMO additives such as colorings, flavorings, enzymes and flavor enhancers are less than 5% of the total ingredients on most foods. This means they can sneak in under the Organic label.

See my post: The EssentiaList: Natural vs Organic, or Certified Organic Label Guide (source of image above) for more on these labels.

Most Common GMO Foods

Corn, soy, cottonseed and canola are probably the most ubiquitous of GMO crops. 85% of feed corn grown in the US is GMO. Wheat is also a common GMO crop. Alfalfa and sugar beets are in the approval process.

If a food contains any of the following non-Organic ingredients, it likely contains GMO:

  • canola oil
  • corn, corn meal, corn oil
  • corn starch
  • glucose, fructose, dextrose, levulose
  • corn syrup, corn sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • wheat or corn gluten
  • soy, soy oil
  • soy sauce
  • soy protein, soy protein isolate
  • TVP (textured vegetable protein)
  • cottonseed oil

Many GMO foods do not require labeling

The following list is from GMO-Compass: These Products do Not Require Labeling.

  • Meat, eggs, milk, and dairy products obtained from animals fed with genetically modified corn or soy feed;
  • Additives, flavours und vitamins produced with the help of GM microorganisms. Some of the more ubiquitous additives include artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), flavor enhancers (glutamate and MSG), and thickening agents such as xanthan/xanthan gum;
  • Any food for which the GMO component is less than 0.9%;
  • Honey gathered from GMO crops
  • Enzymes and other ingredients that are not required to be on the label whether GMO or otherwise; for example, enzymes used in making cheese, bread and pastries, chocolates, juices and wines;
  • Bakers yeast cultured on a medium of GMO corn;
  • Vitamins made by the action of microbia acting on GMO corn;
  • Carrier substances derived from starch, dextrins or glucose, which all may consist of GMO raw materials.

What’s safe from GMO?

Your safest bet is home-grown foods from seeds you know to be GMO-free. Or produce/meat/dairy/eggs from a local farmer whom you trust. When it comes to processed foods – food you probably cannot make in your own kitchen – it’s much riskier. Even if it says “Organic,” is it 100% Organic? Or just “Made with Organic?” Is it organic from a grower/producer whose facility you can inspect? Or is it from China or other countries where you don’t really know how it’s grown (see my post Organics from China for more).

Apart from 100% Organic grown in the USA, here are some recommendations for certain categories, that are safe (at least for now):

  • vegetable oils: olive oil and oils you press yourself from trusted sources;
  • grains: those from trusted local sources;
  • protein powders: currently, pea & rice are not GMO, but that could change, and check other ingredients in the product. [non-organic whey can be suspect because it may contain rGBH; egg can be suspect because the chickens may have been fed GMO grains; all non-organic soy is suspect.] And to get the most nutrition for your $$, choose protein powders processed at low temperatures.


If you wish to learn more about what GMO is, who is doing this, and why they might be doing it, check out the following. I have tried to present sites on both sides of the issue here.


Organic Consumers Association (OCA):

Seeds of Deception:

  • Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating (the book), by Jeffrey M. Smith. Check it out on Amazon.

About/by Monsanto (a major GMO seed company):

World Health Organization (WHO):


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