fruits and vegetables

What’s a GMO and what isn’t?

Of all the food questions we face, bioengineering – or GMOs – tend to be the most complicated and confusing. All of us want to feel confident about the food choices we make, and that’s hard to do with all of the terms and marketing claims that are out there.

So, what’s a GMO? Here are actual facts about GMOs so you can make an informed choice about the food you feed your family.


People often use these terms interchangeably, but they’re not quite the same. Bioengineering is a broad term for technologies used to improve organisms. Genetic modification (GMO = Genetically Modified Organism) is one method of bioengineering which involves introducing desirable traits from one plant into another by inserting DNA strands. Gene editing is another method of bioengineering, but no gene edited foods exist in the market today.


There are currently five different traits crops can be bioengineered to have: insect resistance, drought resistance, herbicide tolerance, disease resistance and enhanced nutritional content. These traits solve both farmer and consumer problems, including a decreased need for pesticide use, improved nutrition for people suffering from malnutrition, and decreased food waste.

What’s a GMO and what isn’t?

There are currently 12 GMOs approved in the U.S.:

  1. Corn
  2. Soybeans
  3. Cotton
  4. Canola
  5. Alfalfa (for animal feed)
  6. Sugar beets
  7. Rainbow papaya
  8. Ranger Russet and Atlantic potatoes
  9. AquAdvantage®Salmon
  10. Arctic®Apples
  11. Select varieties of squash
  12. Golden Rice® (approved but not grown in the U.S.)

Regardless of the choice you make at the grocery store, you should feel confident that your food is safe. Hundreds of scientific institutions, including the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association, and more than 3,000 studies have confirmed that GMOs are safe and government agencies continue to provide regulation and oversight of all food.

Everyone has to eat – that includes farmers, scientists and regulators. We value food safety just as much as you do and we want you to be confident in the food you’re feeding your family.

Now that you have the facts about GMOs, you’ll be able to make the best informed decision for your family. And the next time you see a misleading label or hear someone ask “what’s a GMO?” you can be confident in your knowledge of the topic!