9 Most Common Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs)

most common genetically modified foods || Most common GMO foods || Good news: not all foods have been genetically modified. Let's take a look at the most common genetically modified foods (GMOs) so you can shop smartly.

Good news: not all foods have been genetically modified. In fact, few have! Let’s take a look at the most common genetically modified foods (GMOs) so you can shop smartly.


GMOs have been a hot-button issue in recent years.

Let’s go back to basics really quickly…

What is a GMO?

GMO stands for “genetically modified organism.” They’re created by taking a gene for a desired trait from one plant or organism and using it in another.

What is the purpose of genetically modifying a food?

Most foods are genetically modified in order to increase crop yield. This is true whether they’re modified to better withstand certain herbicides, naturally repel pests, reduce fungus, or grow more quickly.

And here’s where the controversy begins: some say this will help us feed the world’s poor. Other’s say greater crop yield simply equals more profit for the large agro corporations producing genetically modified seeds and the pesticides they’ve been designed to withstand (like Monsanto and their herbicide Roundup), growing genetically modified crops, or mass manufacturing packaged foods made with these crops.

Are GMOs safe?

Here’s where the controversy really kicks into high gear!

The companies that produce genetically modified seeds or foods made with genetically modified ingredients of course say “YES!” and they’ve funded a lot of studies to support this.

But according to The Non-GMO Project, which sums it up best:

A growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage, and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights. More than 60 countries around the world – including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union – require GMOs to be labeled. Globally, there are also 300 regions with outright bans on growing GMOs.

In the absence of credible independent long-term feeding studies, the safety of GMOs is unknown. Increasingly, citizens are taking matters into their own hands and choosing to opt out of the GMO experiment.

And regardless of whether or not genetically modified foods themselves are safe, the fact is: they’re designed to withstand mass amounts of herbicides. So genetically modified foods are likely to have more trace herbicides than their non-GMO counterparts. This alone is enough for me to choose non-GMO foods.

How can I avoid eating GMOs?

(1) Purchase certified organic or certified non-GMO foods.

The easiest way to avoid genetically-modified foods is to purchase produce and packaged items that are USDA certified organic or have the non-GMO Project Verified label. But not all companies can afford to get these certifications – particularly small local farms.

(2) Opt for certified organic versions of common genetically modified foods.

Here’s the thing: not every crop has a genetically modified alternative. In fact, there are actually pretty few genetically modified foods available at this time. So for example, you simply don’t have to worry about eating a GMO blueberry because it just doesn’t exist.

So let’s take a closer look at the most common genetically modified foods. Some of these find their way into our foods in tricky ways, such as in additives or sweeteners. If you are adamant about avoiding GMOs, be sure to memorize this list!

Most common genetically modified foods || Most common GMO foods || Good news: not all foods have been genetically modified. Let's take a look at the most common genetically modified foods (GMOs) so you can shop smartly!


9 Most Common Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs)

Corn

Over 90% of all corn grown in the US is genetically modified to be “Roundup ready” or resistant to the herbicide RoundUp.

Here’s the thing with corn: it’s in just about every packaged product these days, from cereal to ketchup (corn syrup).

Corn is also a common feed ingredient for poultry and livestock, which is why The Non-GMO Project identifies meat and eggs as “high-risk” foods (more on this below).

Soy

Like corn, over 90% of all soybeans grown in the US are genetically modified to be “Roundup ready.”

Also like corn, soy is in SO many packaged products or prepared foods. So it’s important to take a close look at that ingredient label!

Canola oil

Around 90% of all rapeseed (which is used to make canola oil) grown in the US is genetically modified.

Hawaiian papaya

Genetically modified papaya has actually been grown in Hawaii since 1999. They’ve been modified to be naturally resistant to Papaya Ringspot virus and also delay ripening, so they don’t go bad before reaching consumers on the mainland.

Yellow Squash

Yellow squash has been modified to resist insects and fungus.

Zucchini

Like yellow squash, zucchini has been modified to resist insects and fungus.

Alfalfa

Alfalfa has also been modified to withstand the herbicide Roundup.

Sugar beets

After being banned in 2010, GMO sugar beets were deregulated in 2012. Nowadays, 95% of all sugar beets are genetically modified, and they’re used to make half of all sugar produced in the US. So yes, there’s a 50% chance any sugar you’re eating — whether you’re spooning it into your coffee or it’s an ingredient in your favorite cookies — is made with GMO sugar beets.

Cotton oil

Cotton has been genetically modified to increase yield and resistance to disease.


The Non-GMO project also considers certain animal products “high-risk.”

Poultry and Beef

Considered “High-Risk” by the Non-GMO Project

Most chickens and cows raised in large-scale operations or CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operations) — yes, they are as horrible as they sound — are fed a corn- or soy-based diet. And in the words of Michael Pollan, “You are what you eat eats.”

Eggs

Considered “High-Risk” by the Non-GMO Project

Again, chickens raised in CAFOs are fed a corn- or soy-based diet.

Dairy

Considered “High-Risk” by the Non-GMO Project

Again, dairy cows raised in large-scale dairy operations are most often fed a corn- or soy-based diet. Plus, one fifth of all dairy cows in the US are given growth hormones to help them grow faster and produce more milk. Trace amounts of these hormones do end up in the final product, which is a cause for concern.

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  1. So good to know! My husband has all sorts of digestive issues so we are being extra careful to eliminate as much unnatural stuff as possible. I’ll be sure to pay extra close attention to those foods.