A dear friend gifted me with a sweatshirt that said, “GMO OMG WTF Are We Eating?” I can’t tell you how much I really appreciated that thoughtful gift. I even wore it to the screening of a film about GMOs where I was a member of the panel discussion afterward. Almost everyone who saw the message gave a thumb’s up! However, once or twice I saw a different finger response, so I asked if they didn’t like the sweatshirt. Oh no, the sweatshirt was fine; they didn’t like being forced to eat foods not knowing which edibles had GMO ingredients since there is no mandatory labeling of GMOs.
Hopefully, this guide can make that easier and, certainly, more reliable. I’ve pulled together as comprehensive a guide as possible from various online sources to take into consideration as many relevant aspects and angles of the Non-GMO / GMO conundrum.
A most peculiar conundrum of sorts, which I’d like to hash around since I’m discussing food, is that GMOs are approved for safety by the U.S. FDA. According to GMOSeralini,
Contrary to many people’s belief, the FDA does not have a mandatory GM food safety assessment process and has never approved a GM food as safe. It does not carry out or commission safety tests on GM foods. [CJF emphasis]
Instead, the FDA operates a voluntary programme for pre-market review of GM foods. All GM food crops commercialized to date have gone through this review process, but there is no legal requirement for them to do so. Companies that develop GM crops are allowed to put any GMO (genetically modified organism) on the market that they wish without even notifying the FDA, though they can be held liable for any harm to consumers that results from it.
In the USA and all other countries worldwide, GM crops are tested for safety by the same GM seed companies that stand to profit from selling the seed and accompanying chemicals. Generally neither the FDA nor any regulatory agency worldwide does its own independent testing of GM crops.
The outcome of the FDA’s voluntary assessment is not a conclusion, underwritten by the FDA, that the GMO is safe. Instead it consists of the FDA sending the company a letter stating that the company is responsible for placing only safe foods in the market and that if a product is found to be unsafe, the company may be liable. 
[16. US Food and Drug Administration. Biotechnology consultation agency response letter BNF No. 000001. 27 January 1995.http://www.fda.gov/Food/Biotechnology/Submissions/ucm161129.htm]
Clearly, this process does not guarantee – or even attempt to investigate – the safety of GM foods. It does not protect the public, though it may protect the FDA from legal liability in the event that harm is caused by a GM food.
Interestingly—or rather ironically—the FDA categorically does not have the capacity to ensure food safety for the USA! What? Please see this report: “FDA Science and Mission at Risk.”
Now, before we get into resources for shopping and eating, I think readers ought to know which foods/crops have been genetically modified and approved.
According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, 29 plants have been genetically modified. The ISAAA’s database contains a wealth of GMO technology information, which I encourage readers to study to understand what’s happening to food. Almost 3 dozen GM traits are referenced, including glyphosate herbicide tolerance. Another database gives information about GMO developers, while another section enumerates “Approved GM Events by Country.”
Moving along to the next important GMO ‘smokescreen’, we need to examine the enormous database “Comprehensive List of GMO Products,” which provides the brands and products containing GMOs: Anything from Baby Foods to Tomatoes and Sauces, plus just about everything in between. This should be a “keeper”.
The next important piece of information is “Which Fast Food Items DON’T Contain GMOs?”
Even though that webpage may need some updating in view of recent food purveyors’ decisions about their products, it will give readers an idea of what to consider when purchasing fast food items.
This webpage talks about “10 ways to avoid GMOs when you eat out.”
However, there are fast food chains that are doing something more than “talking” about providing healthier foods. Here are some trailblazing trendsetters whom I want to congratulate:
Chipotle, the Mexican-style eatery, is on record as saying “Food with Integrity G-M-Over It”
Thank you, and congratulations on such progressive thinking.
To prove it, here’s their “Ingredient Statement” for an impressive menu with a legend identifying foods as NG (NonGmo Ingredients), L (Local), R (Responsibly Raised™ Meats), O (Organic), D (Pasture-Raised Dairy) WOW!
Panera Bread says, “Food You Can Trust” along with their commitment. And here’s what I like especially: “The No No List” that states,
“We are committed to removing artificial preservatives, sweeteners, colors and flavors from the food in our bakery-cafes by the end of 2016” and they list them here.
Hallelujah! Finally some chain sees the merits of taking out all the chemical crap from food.
Grocery Store Chains
Trader Joe’s Product Statement claims there are no artificial flavors or preservatives, synthetic colors, MSG, GMO ingredients, and partially-hydrogenated oils. The chain offers some fresh, frozen and packaged organic foods. However, within the last year or so, TJ apparently switched some of their product manufacturers and recipes, which made me stop buying their frozen vegetarian organic burritos—they were the best ever. Shucks!
Here’s TJ’s labeling guide, which I’d like to see have the NON GMO Project Verified Products seal too!
Whole Foods assures customers that “By 2018, we will require our supplier partners to label products containing GMO ingredients, and we will work in collaboration with them as they transition to sourcing non-GMO ingredients or to clearly labeling products with ingredients containing GMOs.” One other thing I wish WF would assure customers is that they are removing CANOLA oil from all recipes for their in-store food court cafés, deli counters, baked goodies, and 365 brand foods.
One of the best assurances that you are neither purchasing nor eating GMOs is to look for theNON GMO Project Verified Products seal/logo on packages.
On this NON GMO Project Verified Products website, shoppers can find stores anywhere in the USA where NON GMO Project Verified Products are sold, just by typing in your state!
Here’s a listing of the “12 Best Genetically-Modified-Free Grocery Stores” in the USA and Saskatchewan, Canada.
Some grocery store chains are thinking twice and not selling ‘Franken fish’. According to the Center for Food Safety,
The total number of companies committed to not sell genetically engineered salmon now stands at more than 60 retailers, including Target, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Aldi, H-E-B, Meijer, Hy- Vee, Marsh, Giant Eagle, and now Safeway and Kroger, representing more than 9,000 grocery stores across the country. [Thank you very much!]
Another GMO ‘food’, the potato, literally is becoming a “hot potato” in more ways than temperature.
McDonald’s has gone on record as refusing to purchase GM potatoes for its famous fries. The “Innate” potato, as it’s called, won’t turn brown—oxidize—when cut. Personally, I wonder how the GM tinkering affected the Innate potatoes’ vitamin C content.
Here’s a listing of “The Top 20 Most Credible Food Brands,” including the brand that says “GPA-free” cans on its label. I wish every food canner would implement that consumer-friendly ‘outreach’ for their brand.
For cooks who use frozen foods, here are “The 3 Healthiest Frozen Food Brands.” Personally and on occasion, I enjoy Amy’s Indian-style frozen foods—and they’re organic with no canola oil—an extra special important dietary feature for me.
However, I’ve saved the most important resource for last: Dr. David Samadi, MD, who says, “I avoid GMOs, and I’d advise you to do all you can to adopt a diet free of genetically engineered food.”
Doctor has a wonderful webpage that I think readers should study. As a retired consulting natural nutritionist, I must offer my most sincere congratulations to Dr. Samadi for having the good medical and common sense to understand that GMOs probably are real ‘Franken food’. Thank you, Doctor; I truly wish there were more MDs who think like you do. Here’s what he has to say about GMO ‘foods’:
Look for the Non-GMO Project seal: Products are independently verified to be in compliance with North America’s only third-party standard for GMO avoidance.
On the other side, we have the American Academy of Environmental Medicine warning of serious health risks associated with GM foods including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, insulin resistance, diabetes and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. Some studies have shown it may increase inflammation around the bowels and potentially harm kidney and liver function.
And finally, here’s the Institute for Responsibility Technology’s 24-page “NonGMO Shopping Guide.”
Bon NonGMO appétit!
GMO Seralini: The Seralini Team / Independent Research and Science
ISAAA’s GM Approval Database
Grocery Stores Won’t Sell Genetically Modified Fish
US Consumer Pressure Forces McDonald’s and Other Fast Foods Chains to Ban GE Potatoes