The Easy Way to Tell if Food Contains GMOs: Just Look for the Word ‘Natural’

natural food

The majority of so-called “natural” foods tested by Consumer Reports turned out to contain GMOs—genetically modified organisms that by definition, do not occur naturally.

“Consumers are being misled by the “natural” label,” Urvashi Rangan, executive director of Consumer Reports Food Safety and Sustainability told Reuters.

The consumer group said that it surveyed more than 80 processed foods that included ingredients derived from corn or soy, two common GMOs grown in the U.S. (about 90 percent of soy and corn crops grown in the U.S. are genetically modified).

“While foods labeled as ‘non-GMO,’ or ‘organic’ were found to be free of genetically modified corn and soy, virtually all of the foods labeled as ‘natural’ or not labeled with any claim related to GMO content contained substantial amounts of GMO ingredients,” reports Reuters. “GMOs were present in breakfast cereals, chips, and infant formula.” According to Consumer Reports, the products tested included: Kellogg’s Froot Loops, General Mills Corn Chex, Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix, Doritos Oven Baked Nacho Cheese chips, and Boca Original Vegan Veggie Burgers, Enfamil ProSobee Soy Infant Formula, Gerber Good Start Soy, Similac Soy Isomil, and Similac Go & Grow Soy Infant formula.

Consumer Reports said at least two samples of each product were tested in order to measure the GMO content.

Unlike “organic” the word “natural” is currently unregulated by the FDA, but it hasn’t stopped consumers from taking action. Companies including Kraft, Campbell’s, General Mills, Coca-Cola—and even Whole Foods Market, the beacon for natural and organic foods—have faced lawsuits over misuse of the word “natural” on products that contain genetically modified (or otherwise unnatural) ingredients.

Timing on the report comes just as the food industry’s lobby group, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, is asking the federal government to regulate the use of “natural” and allow it to include GMOs in the definition. But the World Health Organization has defined GMOs as seeds that have been developed by humans, and therefore not occurring naturally.

Natural image via Shutterstock

Keep up with the latest sustainable food news by signing up for our free newsletter. CLICK HERE to sign up!

About the Author

Jill Ettinger is co-director of Eat Drink Better. She is the senior editor at EcoSalon.com and OrganicAuthority.com. A focus on food, herbs, wellness and world cultural expressions, Jill explores what our shifting food, healing systems and creative landscapes will look, sound and taste like in the future. Stay in touch on Twitter @jillettinger and .
  • Tim Austin

    My point is straightforward, clear and readily verifiable by anyone: GM food tastes like crap. GM corn has no smell, and either a foul flavor, or is insipid. There is no incentive to eat it. GM soy just has a nasty taste which permeates any food cooked with soybean oil, as many are. Compare yourself; taste the GM variety alongside the real/organic/non-GMO-verified food. Do the same test with any dairy product, also–milk, cottage cheese or sour cream. Organic tastes delicious, the pseudo-food is repugnant. The agribusiness industry keeps propagandizing the notion that GM “food” is equivalent to its real counterparts, but a simple taste test belies their claim.

  • MICHAEL POWERS

    Since over 90% of all Grains in the U.S. are GMO you can pretty much assume that what you’re getting unless otherwise stated. Most all livestock are fed these same grains, READ YOUR PACKAGING if you don’t want GMO.

  • Pingback: Food Recipes | Food Recipes()