The Top GMO Foods and How to Avoid Them

By: Barry Estabrook & Anne Treadwell  |  July/August 2015  |  Where the GMOs Are

Watch: What Does Genetically Modified (GMO) Mean?
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) first became available to farmers in 1996. By 2013, close to half of all U.S. cropland was planted with GMOs. Ingredients made from GMOs can be found in an estimated 80 percent of the processed foods on U.S. supermarket shelves as well as in feeds for livestock and farmed fish. But very few of the whole foods we eat are GMO, and large quantities of some of the field crops are also used in nonfood products (field corn in ethanol, for example, and cotton in fabrics). Here we explore what crops are genetically modified and how they end up in our food.
SquashSummer Squash & Zucchini

A small amount of the summer squash and zucchini grown in the U.S. has been engineered to resist two specific viruses.


Over three-quarters of Hawaii-grown papayas are the Rainbow variety that was modified to resist a disease that nearly devastated the crop in the ’90s. Most of Hawaii’s papayas are exported. Most fresh papayas in the U.S. come from Mexico.

CornSweet Corn

A minor amount of GMO sweet corn is grown in the U.S. and sold as fresh ears; a higher percentage of Canadian sweet corn is GMO. Traits that have been developed are herbicide and earworm (insect) resistance.


J.R. Simplot, a French-fry maker, introduced its Innate potato variety to the U.S. in 2015. It’s modified to have fewer black spots from bruising and to produce lower levels of acrylamide, a possible carcinogen, when fried.


The FDA approved the Arctic apple in 2015, but trees have not yet been planted and it will take several years for trees to bear fruit. The apples, which include Granny Smith and Golden, are modified to resist browning when cut.

The GMO LandscapeThe landscape of GMO-containing food products is constantly changing. To limit the possibility of your food containing GMOs, look for the Non-GMO Project Verified seal or buy organic. (Due to contamination, testing limitations, etc., no products can be certified to be completely GMO-free.)
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Read More: GMOs: Good Seed, Bad Seed | Heirloom to Hybrid to GM