GMO Resource Guide

What is a GMO?

A GMO (or genetically modified organism) is a plant, animal, or other organism that has had its genetic makeup altered using gene splicing, gene modification or transgenic technology. This technology creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, viral, or bacterial genes that are not created in nature or through traditional crossbreeding/hybridizing methods. In other words, a GMO is something that can only be created in a lab. They are most often engineered to be resistant to pesticides & herbicides or to create their own internal insecticide.

Are they safe?

While most of the world views GMOs as unsafe, the US and Canada have approved them based on studies done by the very companies that created them! No real testing has been done by the FDA, nor is labeling required for them, yet they have been deemed safe for our consumption! Scary, right? With GMOs being prevalent in about 70% of our nation’s food supply, and with a steady rise in food allergies, organ damage, certain types of cancers and even nervous system damage, it’s hard not to be a bit concerned that there might be a direct correlation. Even the World Health Organization has come out stating that the herbicide Glyphosate*, which is most commonly used on GMO crops, is a possible human carcinogen!

Crops that are genetically modified:

The most prominent GMO crops are corn, soy, alfalfa, cotton*, papaya, sugar beets, canola and zucchini/yellow squash, and now white potatoes and certain types of apples have joined the group.

*for women – think feminine products!

Ingredients that are GMO:

There are so many hidden GMO ingredients lurking in our foods (especially processed, packaged, bottled, & canned) and personal care/cosmetics, that I thought it would be helpful to list a bunch to watch out for! This list is taken from the Non-GMO Shopping Guide.

  1. corn flour
  2. corn masa
  3. corn meal
  4. corn oil
  5. corn sugar
  6. corn syrup
  7. cornstarch
  8. starch
  9. food starch
  10. modified food starch
  11. modified starch
  12. hydrogenated starch
  13. milo starch
  14. high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  15. dextrin
  16. cyclodextrin
  17. maltodextrin
  18. dextrose
  19. malt
  20. malt syrup
  21. malt extract
  22. hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  23. baking powder
  24. caramel color
  25. sugar (unless specified as cane sugar)
  26. E951
  27. Nutrasweet
  28. Aspartame
  29. minoSweet
  30. Canderel
  31. BeneVia
  32. Phenylalanine
  33. Equal
  34. confectioners sugar
  35. invert sugar
  36. inverse syrup
  37. fructose (any form)
  38. glucose
  39. condensed milk
  40. milk powder
  41. glycerides
  42. glycerin
  43. glycerol
  44. glycerol monooleate
  45. diglyceride
  46. mono and diglycerides
  47. triglyceride
  48. teriyaki marinades
  49. tofu
  50. tamari
  51. tempeh
  52. textured vegetable protein
  53. soy flour
  54. soy isolates
  55. soy milk
  56. soy oil
  57. soy sauce
  58. soy protein
  59. soy protein concentrate
  60. soy protein isolate
  61. protein isolate
  62. soy lecithin
  63. lecithin
  64. whey
  65. whey powder
  66. xanthan gum
  67. canola oil (rapeseed oil)
  68. cottonseed oil
  69. vegetable oil
  70. vegetable fat
  71. shoyu
  72. monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  73. glutamate
  74. glutamic acid
  75. citric acid
  76. lactic acid
  77. phytic acid
  78. oleic acid
  79. stearic acid
  80. erythritol
  81. inositol
  82. mannitol
  83. sorbitol
  84. cellulose
  85. hemicellulose
  86. methylcellulose
  87. trehalose
  88. colorose
  89. maltitol maltose
  90. cobalamin (Vitamin B12)
  91. vitamin B12
  92. vitamin E
  93. diacetyl
  94. isoflavones
  95. tocopherols (vitamin E)
  96. threonine
  97. glycine
  98. leucine
  99. lysine
  100. cysteine

 How can we avoid them?

The obvious way would be to buy everything organic, but it’s understandable that not everyone has the budget to be able to do that. The next most obvious would be to look for products that have the “Non-GMO Project Verified” label on them. These are brands that have gone through a rigorous testing procedure by a third party in which the lab looks at a product’s individual ingredients and precursors for any GMO materials.

For those on a strict budget looking to reduce their GMO exposure, here are a few tips that may be helpful:

    1. Take stock of what foods you eat on a daily and weekly basis. Those are the foods you should always buy organic. To save money, skip the name brand organics and opt instead for your grocery store’s brand (ie: Wegman’s, Tops, Wholefoods, etc..). Other options are Trader Joe’s (their name brand is non-GMO) and Aldi. You can also check with your local farmer’s markets to see if their produce is GMO.
    1.  Go meat & dairy free a few days a week! Since most Americans can’t think of nixing meat or dairy, try cutting back to a few days a week and always buy organic, as conventional animal feed is GMO (not to mention that factory farmed animals are often treated inhumanely & who wants to support that?!)
    1. Check websites of brands you love to see if they use GMO’s. If you don’t see anything listed, don’t be afraid to contact them and ask! Most brands understand consumers interest in avoiding GMO’s and they will let you know.
    1. Make homemade! Dips, breads, cookies, etc..most often it’s cheaper to buy the individual ingredients and make your own organic/non-GMO snacks or treats.
    1. Check online for deals – Amazon is one of my fave shopping sites to get bulk organic products.
    1. If you have one near you, join Sam’s Club – they are constantly getting in new organic and non-GMO products for much less than the grocery stores and you get bigger portions too!
    1. Sign up for brand’s newsletters to get discounts, coupons, and other special deals
    1. Grow your own veggies/fruits! It’s easier than you think and organic seeds are relatively inexpensive! Also, nothing beats the taste of clean, GMO and pesticide-free food that you grew and cared for yourself! 🙂
  1. Check the PLU codes on produce – if it starts with 8 it’s GMO ( if 8 it’s not great) and if it starts with 9 it’s organic (if 9 then it’s fine)!

*Note – Non-GMO does NOT mean that the product is free from pesticides/glyphosate, it just means that the food/ingredient has not been genetically modified. To avoid both GMO’s and pesticides like glyphosate, buy organic!

Links for more info:

Non-GMO Project 

Organic Authority

Non-GMO Shopping Guide

Food Babe

Fight Against GMO’s

Center For Food Safety

Responsible Technology

Organic Consumers Association


Kids Right To Know

Melissa Diane Smith

*More info on dangers of Glyphosate: