The majority of genetically modified (GM) foods end up in processed foods—in fact, up to 75 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves today include GM ingredients. That makes avoiding them both difficult (they’re in a lot of foods) and simple (don’t buy processed foods). Outside of those very general guidelines, use these tips from the Center for Food Safety if you wish to avoid putting GM foods in your cart.
TIP #1: Buy Organic
When you purchase products labeled “100% organic,” “organic” or “made with organic ingredients,” all ingredients in these products are not allowed to be produced from GM crops. Products labeled “made with organic ingredients” only require 70 percent of the ingredients to be organic, but 100 percent must be non-GMO.
TIP #2: Look for “Non-GMO” Labels
Companies may voluntarily label products “non-GMO.” Some labels state “non-GMO” while others spell out “Made Without Genetically Modified Ingredients.” Some products limit their claim to only one particular “at-risk” ingredient such as the common emulsifier soy lecithin, listing it as "non-GMO."
TIP #3: Avoid At-Risk Ingredients
Avoid products made with any of the most-common GM crops, sometimes called the “Big Five:”
1. Corn: Corn flour, meal, oil, starch, gluten and syrup; sweeteners such as fructose, dextrose and glucose; modified food starch
2. Beet Sugar: Sugar not specified as 100 percent cane sugar is likely from GM sugar beets
3. Canola: Canola oil (also called rapeseed oil)
4. Soy: Soy flour, lecithin, protein, isolate and isoflavone; vegetable oil and vegetable protein
5. Cotton: Cottonseed oil
Note: Alfalfa has also been genetically engineered. This is primarily for the animal feed market. Seek out organic dairy products to avoid GM alfalfa.
TIP #4: Get a Guide
Download the Center for Food Safety’s free application the True Shopper’s Guide, which lists specific brands that do not include GM ingredients.
Read More: Learn the science of genetically modified organisms in What are GMOs?