Concerned about GMO Foods? How to Avoid Them

American consumers concerned about foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), continue to have far fewer options than their European counterparts. The European Union has stringent controls on the use of genetically modified products, requiring extensive testing of each item before use. In the US, however, there are no controls, and GMO foods and so far, efforts to introduce labeling requirements for GMO foods have fallen short.

So, what’s all the GMO hullabaloo about? Consumer advocates argue that the safety of GMOs has been poorly documented, and that numerous health concerns remain. GMOs are foods have been modified by splicing genes from one organism into another—for example, bacillus bacteria is added to corn to make it produce its own pesticide, or a gene derived from arctic fish is added to tomatoes to make them frost-resistant. Consumer advocates that this kind of cross-species gene combination can have numerous unexpected consequences and health effects on both humans and animals eating GMOs.

There has not been little testing of GMO effects on humans, but animal testing so far suggests that an array of immune, endocrine, and even organ damage could result from consuming GE foods. The American Academy of Environmental Science (AAES) recently recommended that doctors consider in their diagnoses that immune-related and other diseases could be caused by consumption of GE foods, and that doctors should prescribe genetically modified organism (GMO)-free diets.

Since the jury is still out on the safety of GMOs, more and more health-conscious people are trying to simply stay clear of GMO foods by refraining from buying and eating any foods containing GMOs. However, because GMO foods are not labeled, the only way to avoid GMOs is to educate yourself about which food to avoid. The AAES and other consumer advocates such as Jeffrey Smith, writer of the movie “Genetic Roulette,”recommends avoiding the following foods, which most commonly contain GMOs:             

  • Conventional soy products, including soybeans, soymilk, soybean oil, tofu, and soy lecithin.

  • Sweeteners: Aspartame, Nutra Sweet, Equal, high fructose corn syrup, and beet sugar. Unless a product lists the sweetener as “pure cane sugar,” it most likely contains beet sugar, which is genetically engineered

  • Seed and vegetable oils: soy, cottonseed, canola and corn oils

  • Corn and corn products

  • Hawaiian papaya

  • Some zucchini and yellow squash  

  • Milk products: cows may have been injected with bovine growth hormone

Alternative Choices:      

  • Buy Organic. While efforts to legally require organically labeled foods to be GMO-free have been defeated so far, most organic growers won’t use seeds that have been genetically engineered.

  • Look for foods with the Non-GMO Project seal, which signifies that the product was tested by an independent non-profit organization and confirmed to be free of GMOs.

  • Buy milk that has the labels “no rBGH”, “no rBST,” or “artificial hormone free.” Or, instead of cow’s milk, try almond, coconut, hemp, or rice milk. WestSoy is one company that sells non-GMO soymilk, but there are other brands that do the same.

  • To avoid sugar from sugar beets, which have been genetically modified, look for candies, chocolate, and baked goods made with 100% pure cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, organic sugar, or other natural sweeteners like date sugar or maple syrup.

A growing number of companies are enrolling in the Non-GMO Project standard, and more companies will likely join them if more consumers demand GMO-free foods. For your convenience while grocery shopping, a non-GMO shopping guide or app for your smart phone is available at the AAES website.

Non GMO Shopping Guide, The Institute for Responsible Technology

Recent articles


Upcoming courses


Yoga for
every body

How to Avoid the Top 3 Pitfalls of Forward Bends

With Julie Gudmedstad

Recent articles


Sorry, You have reached your
monthly limit of views

To access, join us for a free 7-day membership trial to support expanding the Pose Library resources to the yoga community.

Sign up for a FREE 7-day trial