Genetically Engineered Crops & GMOs

field of corn

Genetically engineered (GE) crops [more commonly referred to as genetically modified organisms (GMOs)] are crops that have been engineered to produce certain qualities not intrinsic to the plant itself. An organism is inserted with genetic material from a different species to create a new organism not developed in nature or through traditional breeding.

The most common GE crops are developed to be resistant to an herbicide, such as glyphosate, 2,4-D, and/or dicamaba, and engineered with the pesticide Bt to protect against pests (the plant itself produces the Bt toxin).

Concerns with GE Crops: Health, Regulation, and Environment

  • Lack of Proper Regulation: Uncertainty of the safety of GE crops due to the lax regulation by the FDA, USDA, and EPA and the lack of unbiased scientific research on the long-term human and environmental health impacts. Several studies conducted by scientists have called into question the safety of consuming GE crops. Further unbiased research regarding health and safety issues is needed.
  • Destruction of Ecosystems: Majority of GE crops are engineered to work in partnership with a specific herbicide, most commonly glyphosate. Since the crops themselves are engineered to resist the effects of the herbicides, the chemicals are sprayed freely and extensively on the farm negatively impacting surrounding communities and ecosystems.
  • Eradication of Key Pollinators: Increased use of pesticides has led to a decline in key pollinator species, such as honeybees and monarch butterflies.
  • Development of Superweeds & Pests: Excessive use of pesticides and herbicides in connection with GE crops has led to superweeds and pests that have developed resistance to the most commonly used pesticides. As a result, farmers and chemical companies are turning to much more toxic pesticides including 2,4-D and diacamba.
  • Community Health Impact: Both glyphosate and 2,4-D—herbicides used extensively on GE crops—have been deemed probable carcinogens by the World Health Organization and have a major impact on the health of surrounding communities.
  • Soil Degradation: GE crops encourage mono-cropping, where one large area is grown with the same crop variety year after year. This method of agriculture damages soil health and fertility and quickly depletes nutrients. Poor soil health requires farmers to rely on external inputs such as nitrogen fertilizers produced from fossil fuels. The overuse of nitrogen fertilizers is not only continuing our dependence on oil and perpetuating climate change, but it is also polluting our water ways and creating dead zones void of aquatic life.

GE crops are not part of a sustainable system of agriculture. In order to sustain our soil and food supply, we must move to a regenerative system of agriculture, with its basis in the principles of organics. This means moving away from destructive chemical inputs such as pesticides and synthetic fertilizers and moving towards systems that work in tune with the natural biology of soil and the environment. We actively engage with members of Congress, federal regulating agencies, and companies to open up the dialogue on the necessary steps towards a more sustainable food landscape. We are committed to educating consumers, like you, around the impacts of GE crops and industrial agriculture and the steps that we can all take to protect and improve our food and the environment.

What To Look For

Look for these seals to ensure that the food you're eating does not contain genetically engineered ingredients.


What To Avoid: Genetically Engineered Crops & Ingredients

These are the genetically engineered crops that are currently on the market: corn, soy, alfalfa, canola, cotton, papaya, sugar beets, zucchini and yellow summer squash.

In the US, GMOs are in as much as 80 percent of conventional processed food. The following product ingredients are likely derived GE crops: Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid, Dextrose, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sodium Ascorbate, Sodium Citrate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Yeast Products, and many more.

Green America's GMO Inside campaign is working to get GMOs and toxins out of our food. We've had a number of recent victories including Campbell’s offering Goldfish and soups with organic ingredients, Hershey removing GE sugar from its Kisses and chocolate bars, Hellmann’s launching a non-GMO mayo, and Similac introducing three non-GMO baby formulas.