What You Need to Know About Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Reader Contribution by Susan Melgren and Web Editor
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October is National Non-GMO Month. Last October marked the first Non-GMO Month, celebrated by almost 600 natural food retailers across the United States. This year, to help spread awareness about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and to help promote Non-GMO month, Nature’s Path, maker of organic cereals, bars and waffles, created an infographic to help explain the basics of GMOs.

What are GMOs?

Genetically Modified Organisms are experimental plants or animals that have been genetically engineered in a laboratory with DNA from other plants, animals, bacteria and viruses. 

Why GMOs?

There are two main reasons:

1. Seed producers modify their seed to make it resistant to their brand of herbicide.
2. Seed producers modify plants to contain built-in pesticides.

GMO ingredients are found in 80 percent of packaged foods in the U.S. GMO crops are also added to processed foods such as oils, sweeteners and soy proteins, and in things like amino acids, aspartame, vitamin C, flavorings (natural and artificial), maltodextrins and more.

Genetically Modified Crops Grown in the U.S. 

Percentage of each crop that is GMO (2010):

Soy: 93 percent
Cotton: 93 percent
Corn: 86 percent
Canola: 90 percent

Labeling and Bans

NO: The United States and Canada do not require labeling of genetically engineered foods.

YES: In 40 countries, including Australia, Japan and all European Union nations there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production of GMOs because they are not considered proven safe.


GMOs have not been proven safe. The long-term consequences of GMOs on our health and environment have not been adequately investigated.

Avoiding GE Ingredients

Organic Food: The USDA Certification states that “the use of genetically engineered organisms and their products are prohibited at any stage in organic production, processing or handling.”

Non-GMO Project Verified Products

Products bearing this seal have undergone independent testing to ensure they have been made according to best practices for GE avoidance.

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