In Your Grocery Aisle: Non-GMO Foods

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are a frequent topic of discussion in news media and online. Best Food Facts has covered the subject of GMOs, genetically modified crops, in detail. We recently received a consumer question about grocery store foods not containing GMOs, so we reached out to Anne Cundiff, registered dietitian with Hy-Vee Foods, for some answers.

Why are so many grocery stores and other markets so big on non-GMO foods and products if this is a safe way of producing food?

Anne Cundiff:

As a registered dietitian, nutrition expert and retail dietitian, my focus is to provide my clients and customers with sound nutrition advice based on science as well as meeting my clients and customers where they are in their wellness journey. GMO foods are safe for human and animal consumption based on science and research. However, there are some consumers who are concerned with GMOs in their foods and are making the personal choice to not purchase these foods. I feel retailers are responding by providing these consumers with products that meet their specific wellness needs.

We had some follow-up questions for Anne:

How can consumers differentiate between non-GMO and GMO foods at the grocery store? Are non-GMO foods in a separate section, or do consumers need to look at packaging to determine which products are non-GMO?

Anne Cundiff:

There are a couple ways to differentiate between non-GMO and GMO foods at the grocery store. I always recommend looking at packaging of foods and products. It is not required for this designation to be listed, but many companies are adding to the food label because of consumer demand. It will be stated by the nutrition label/nutrition list. There is also the Non-GMO Project, which is a non-profit, providing third-party verification and labeling of non-GMO foods and products. The other way to ensure a food or product is non-GMO is to purchase food labeled as organic. 

As a registered dietitian, what can you tell us about the nutritional quality of GMO versus non-GMO foods?

Anne Cundiff:

Foods with GMOs are perfectly safe and have the same nutrition quality of non-GMO foods. I consume foods with GMOs and confidently purchase, prepare and serve foods with GMOs to my own family. 

Image: “NOV 20 – SNAP – Grocery Shopping” by U.S. Department of Agriculture is licensed under CC BY 2.0.