Whether you like GMOs or avoid them like the plague, everyone deserves to know what goes into their food. I remember learning about genetically modified tomatoes in my high school biology classes, only to find out that those tomatoes aren’t actually on the market anymore. That busted myth led me to wonder which foods are GMO.

As it turns out, there are only 11 GMO foods that consumers can purchase in the United States. Before any of those foods can make it to our plates, they have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the US Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Non-GM foods don’t go through near as much testing as GM foods do

Before we go any further, let me define what exactly GMO means. GMO stands for “genetically modified organism.” Scientists improve a plant or animal by inserting a desired trait from another organism into it. This can mean less pesticide use, decreased loss of crop to insects and diseases, or food that benefits the consumer in ways it didn't before.


corn, pasture, vegetable, hazelnut, straw, cereal, popcorn, maize, sweet corn, meat
Allie Coneys

Both GM sweet corn (what we eat) and field corn (what livestock eat) are approved for consumption. Both have been genetically modified to protect against pests that might ruin the crop.


Canola (what makes canola oil) is genetically modified for herbicide tolerance. This actually means that less chemicals are applied than those applied to non-GM crops.


Soybeans have been genetically modified for insect resistance as well as herbicide tolerance. According to the United Soybean Board, more soybeans have been able to grow on less land with less resources, meaning this technology has made soybean farms more sustainable.

Sugar Beets

Sugar beets, a common crop in cooler climates in the United States, have been modified to have both virus and pest resistance, as well as some herbicide tolerance.


GM Papayas are protected from Papaya Ringspot Virus. Without this technology, the papaya industry may well have been completely wiped out.


Cotton that is genetically modified is protected from cotton bollworm. Cotton bollworm is a dangerous problem in southern states and cannot be easily controlled with chemicals. 


apple, juice, pasture, sweet
Ellen Gibbs

Genetically modified apples are some of the newest to hit the market. Varieties like Arctic Golden and Arctic Granny are resistant to browning, which is good news for parents. Kids are more likely to eat fruit that has been sliced and browning resistance will allow for apples to be cut earlier in the day and enjoyed hours later. 


While we don’t consume alfalfa, our livestock do. GM alfalfa is herbicide tolerant. It's important to note that animals that consume GM foods are not themselves genetically modified.


Squash that's genetically modified is more resistant to disease. Viruses destroy up to 80% of squash crops every year.


fish, salmon, seafood, sushi, sashimi, meat, trout, rice, smoked salmon
Lorcan Cannon

AquAdvantage salmon is the first genetically modified animal to be approved for consumption by the FDA. These salmon grow faster than other salmon.


cheese, garlic
Liam Kennison

The Innate potato is another new GM crop. These potatoes are less likely to bruise and are healthier than typical potatoes when cooked at high temperatures.

For each of the foods listed above, there are non-GM varieties also available. Studies show that genetically modified foods pose no risk to your health and show no significant differences compared to non-GM foods. Whether or not you choose to consume GM foods, you deserve to know about the technology improving food today.