GMO Food (UPDATED) List of Genetically Engineered Food
GMO food remains unlabeled in the US despite consumers wanting to know (and having the right to know) what they are eating and drinking. Some US companies started voluntarily disclosing that their food products are made using genetic engineering, yet they don’t specify exactly which ingredients are GMO. Supposedly, if a product code on produce (PLU) begins with the number 8, then it’s genetically modified.
With the introduction of CRISPR technology we have entered a time when practically any living organism can be genetically modified. The list of processed food products which use these GMO food ingredients is very, very long. For now, however, the list of approved genetically engineered whole food is relatively short.
This won’t last long, as new GMO food varieties are approved every year. So, it’s not too late to start avoiding GMO food and products by switching to non-gmo, organic, wholesome food, since most GMO food is found in processed food (and drinks) that are not certified organic or non-gmo.
List of GMO Food
As of May, 2017. Listed by the number of GMO varieties approved and deregulated in the US. All GMO food in this list are approved to be grown and sold in the US. Other countries may have different approval status. GMO food and their derivatives are mostly found in processed mainstream food, drinks, and animal feed. (Sources: USDA, FDA, ISAAA)
GMO corn is the king of GMO food with more than 33 genetically engineered varieties taking up 80%-90% of all corn farmland in the US. GMO corn derivatives are a staple in non-organic processed food ranging from the notoriously unhealthy HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) to Ascorbic Acid (synthetic Vitamin C), corn starch, and much more. GMO corn can produce their own pesticide in the form of bT bacteria toxin, as well as resist applications of highly toxic herbicides which contain glyphosate i.e. RoundUp. Could be the reason why lots of people have a corn allergy. GMO corn is also used to feed livestock. Mainstream beer is not required to list any ingredients, but it’s highly likely using GMO corn derivatives such as genetically modified corn syrup.
GMO Soybeans are another heavyweight GMO food. If Genetically Engineered corn is the king of GMOs, then GMO Soybean is the queen! Hard to believe, but there are at least 20 approved GMO soybean varieties. Like GM corn, the GMO soybeans are mostly found in non-organic processed food. Soybean oil is extensively used in shortenings, margarine, baked goods, salad dressings, etc. Of all vegetable oils, Soybean oil accounts for 55% of US consumption – the most widely consumed vegetable oil in the United States. (Source: USDA) Many people are allergic to soy. Genetically engineered herbicide tolerant soy makes up around 94% of all soy crops grown in the US. Now that’s a lot of herbicide!
Rapeseed and Canola are closely related. Canola plant was derived from the Rapeseed plant. The two plants share about 10 genetically engineered varieties. Canola oil is the second most widely consumed vegetable oil in the U.S. after Soybean oil. You can find GMO canola in processed food such as canola oil, vegetable oil, margarine, emulsifiers, and packaged food. It’s estimated that 90% of all canola grown in USA and Canada is Genetically Modified. More so, GMO Canola has become a major source of genetic contamination, escaping into the wild. According to Monsanto’s environmental policy lead Tom Nickson, you can expect around 90% level of roadside GMO canola contamination. This happens usually when genetically engineered Canola seeds fall off into the wild during transportation and become part of the ecosystem.
There are at least 9 approved varieties of GMO potatoes in the US. Potato is a major staple in the Western diet a source of energy through carbohydrates. As a result, the GMO potato could be the next big GMO food on the market. Genetically modified potatoes are engineered to withstand bruising, viruses, fungi, bugs, and expected to exhibit low levels of acrylomide. J.R. Simplot’s new generation of GM potatoes is expected to be more marketable. In the Summer of 2014 about 400 acres worth of Simplot GMO potatoes sold at Midwest and Southeast grocery stores. The company aims to significantly increase it’s output of genetically engineered potatoes in 2017. GE potatoes will be marketed to grocery stores and restaurants due to their longer shelf life and “prettier” appearance, since the don’t bruise. Potatoes, just like tomatoes are part of the Nightshade family. People who follow AIP (Autoimmune Protocol diet) tend to avoid members of the Nightshades.
Most GMO papayas are grown in Hawaii on the Big Island. Lots of Big Island locals have a general dislike for the GMOs and there have been cases of destruction of GMO papaya fields by activists. A big portion of genetically engineered papayas, known as Rainbow papaya, is exported to Japan, where by law it’s supposed to be labeled. In Hawaii GMO papayas are not labeled, so buying organic Papayas is the way to go.
GMO zucchini and squash have been deregulated in the US since 1994 according to USDA and approved for human consumption since 1995 by the FDA. There are 2 genetically engineered varieties. Zucchini and squashes are also members of the Nightshade family, along with potato and tomato, which are not part of the AIP diet.
More than 50% of all processed sugar comes from GMO sugar beets. You can avoid it by switching to sugar that comes from sugar cane, honey, or agave. Safest bet is to make sure that it’s certified non-gmo and organic.
GMO Alfalfa is commonly used to feed livestock. Alfalfa sprouts is a popular health food too, so if you’re trying to avoid GMOs make sure your Alfalfa sprouts come from organic seeds. GMO alfalfa seeds may be treated with synthetic chemicals and have residues from herbicide/insecticide applications.
GMO Flax was developed by the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. It was approved by the USDA and the FDA for use as human and animal food in the late 90’s. GMO Flax is supposed to tolerate herbicide sulfonylurea. This chemical is also used as an anti-diabetic pharmaceutical drug! Flax and flax oil are known as a health food, but are they still healthy when sprayed with a chemical that induces hypoglycemia in animals and humans?
GMO apple, also known as the Arctic Apple was also developed by a Canadian company. GE apple was approved by the FDA and USDA in 2015, making it one of the more recent approvals. The GMO Apple is modified to prevent browning due to oxidation when sliced.
In 2009 the FDA approved the GMO Plum, which is modified to be resistant to the plum pox virus. It was developed by the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Salmon (farm raised)
At the end of 2015, the FDA approved the first genetically engineered farm-raised Salmon known as AquAdvantage Salmon. This GMO Salmon is anything, but local. It is bred in Canada, the eggs will be transported and raised all the way in Panama, and then supply the United States (and other countries). GMO Salmon is not required to be labeled as such, so if you want to avoid GMO salmon, you will have to get wild caught salmon. Luckily, Alaska and New Zealand have still a good amount of wild salmon. GMO Salmon is a cross between salmon and a sea eel, which makes that genetically engineered salmon grow faster and double the size.
In 2008, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Cloned Meat and it’s derivatives, such as milk for human consumption. The FDA concluded that ‘(cloned) food from cattle, swine and goat clones is as safe to eat as food from any other cattle, swine or goat.’ For the purposes of this list, cloned meat is considered a Genetically Engineered product, since it requires precise, lab controlled replication and propagation of host DNA, and does not occur in nature.
Yeast, Enzymes, and Hormones
GMO Yeast is used in non-organic winemaking. Enzymes isolated from GMO fed animals are used in non-organic cheese making. You can expect GMO yeast and enzymes to be used in other areas of food and supplement production. Many mainstream brand vitamins and supplements rely on genetic engineering. In Japan genetically modified yeast used in the production of a popular supplement Tryptophan was behind the deaths of several dozen people in 1989 shedding light and raising questions about the safety of genetic engineering. Synthetic sugar substitutes such as Aspartame are made using genetically modified bacteria. rBGH and rBHT are genetically engineered artificial hormones injected into dairy cows in the US to produce more milk.
GMO Pineapple is the latest GMO fruit to be approved for human consumption as of December, 2016. It’s a product of Del Monte and is characterized by pink flesh on the inside. The pink Pineapple was genetically engineered to have higher levels of carotenoids.
Additional GMO Considerations
There are always on-going experimental trials of GMOs all over the world. This includes many plants, animals, and other life forms that are not listed above or below. Hawaii remains the capital of GMO experimentations due to it’s all year round favorable climate and good infrastructure. Other tropical places, such as Africa, Philippines, Brazil, Costa Rica, and even French Polynesia currently have or have had GMO trials. Of course, Europe and Asia are not exceptions.
Around 90% of all cotton grown in the US is GMO cotton. This means that it’s highly likely that your cotton clothing, personal hygiene items, towels, bedding, etc. are made from genetically modified cotton, unless it says non-gmo or organic cotton on the label.
GMO tobacco – is this the reason why tobacco is so toxic? After all, many genetically modified crops are modified to withstand high levels of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides.
Sounds unbelievable, but England became the first country to legalize three-parent GMO human babies in 2016. Early in 2017, the first peer-reviewed study was published on Chimera – a human pig hybrid created by Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. Mostly pig, but having human genes Chimera was the first step toward growing human organs inside of pigs.
Golf Greens: GMO Creeping Bentgrass
While many Americans were focused on the presidential inauguration, the USDA approved GMO Creeping Bentrgass on January 18, 2017. It’s expected to be used primarily for golf course greens. It was USDA’s first GMO approval of 2017.
Trees and Flowers
Roses are.. genetically modified, at least some. Flowers grown in the garden or purchased could be genetically engineered. The idea of a GMO forest is not farfetched, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea, since environmental risks have not been established. Eucalyptus (Brazil) and Poplar (China) are examples of GMO trees.
Sugar Cane (Indonesia)
GMO sugar cane does exist.. in Indonesia, and possibly other tropical countries. It’s not approved in the US, where the GMO sugar beet is a readily available.
Currently there are 11 approved genetically modified varieties of Tomato, but they are not commercially available. The first GMO tomato was approved back in 1992. Commercial production stopped in 1997. Lots of people love tomatoes or its derivatives, such as ketchup. However, tomatoes are part of the Nightshade family of plants which could be irritant to certain people with digestive issues. This is why Nightshades are not part of the AIP (Auto-Immune Protocol diet).
Rice is a main staple food for billions of people and more than half the word’s population rely on it as a source of energy. Two strains of GMO rice was approved by the FDA for human and animal consumption in 2000, but did not achieve commercialization. The patent belongs to Bayer Crop Science. GMO rice is meant to withstand applications of persistently toxic herbicide glufosinate-ammonium. In 2006 30% of US rice production were affected by trace amounts of unapproved GMO rice variety. Another genetically engineered strain of rice called Golden Rice was created by Syngenta, but started out as a project of the Rockefeller Foundation in the 80’s. An experimental plot of GMO Golden Rice crops was uprooted in the Philippines by eco activists in 2013.
Wheat (Colombia and New Zealand, previously US)
GMO wheat is not approved in the US, but that didn’t stop it from growing in Washington. In 2016 the USDA confirmed that an unapproved strain of Monsanto’s GMO wheat was growing in Washington state. This caused a panic in global wheat trade.
GMO Leaf Chicory also known as genetically engineered Radicchio was approved by the FDA and USDA back in 1997. The patent belongs to a Bejo of Netherlands. It was modified to be tolerant to herbicide glufosinate-ammonium, which is classified as persistent by the EPA. Although it’s still approved for cultivation and consumption in the US, it seems that GMO Chicory/Radicchio is not on the market. Additionally, Bejo (the company behind it) switched to non-gmo and organic farming methods. Nice move!
Application for growing GMO Cantaloupe in the US was withdrawn from USDA in 2004. Yet, it remains approved for consumption by the FDA. Could this GMO food be coming from other countries?
GMO bananas are probably the next big GMO fruit to be approved. Genetically modified bananas are currently part of multi-million dollar on-going experimental trials happening in several places around the world, including Hawaii.
Another controversial GMO animal – the GMO Mosquito created by Oxitec of England was approved by the FDA in August of 2016 to be released in Florida. The genetically engineered mosquito is supposed to wipe out non-gmo mosquitos by making them sterile. Thousands Oxitec mosquitoes were released in the Florida Keyes in 2016. The GMO mosquito is supposed to be identified by it’s green glowing eyes. Seriously.