GMOs in Our Food - Labeling Requirements

Dec. 2, 2013

The question was asked: "How can I tell if there are GMOs in the foods I buy?"


There are no labeling requirements (for Ohio), but there are products with labels that indicate the product contains no GMOs.  Products that are USDA certified organic will be labeled as such and will contain no GMOs.  Note that labels that indicate "all-natural" are really not regulated (and cannot be interchanged with organic) and you should not assume that "all-natural" contains no GMO's.  The "all-natural" labels are often related to meats and indicate that the animals have been fed no antibiotics or hormones.


There are test strips available that can detect GMO in grain.  These tests generally require the sample to be ground, an agent added then a test strip put into the solution, which then will change colors to indicate GMO presence.  There are other more intensive testing methods available as well.





To date, there are no widely known (reliable anyways...) testing methods for food.  They are working on methods to detect it in food, but the progress in development and testing of the process is slow.


One thing to consider is the wide acceptance of GMO crops by farmers.  In 2013, 90% of all corn acres and 93% of all soybean acres in the U.S. were planted to genetically modified crops.  This includes herbicide tolerant, insect tolerant and stacked traits.  With this in mind, it would be safe to assume that most food has been made with some sort of GMO grain - whether it contains corn syrup, corn oil, soybean oil, etc.  Additionally, most animals have probably been fed GMO grains.


Suppliers should be able to give some indication of GMO presence in their products.  If they don't purposefully buy organic or non-GMO grains or ingredients, the product probably will have some level of GMO present.  There are still non-GMO corn and soybeans grown with programs available to keep them separate from GMO crops (ex. ADM in Columbus has a non-GMO soybean program available for farmers).



Allen Geyer
Sr. Research Associate
Horticulture & Crop Science
223 Kottman Hall, 2021 Coffey Rd, Columbus, OH 43210
614-832-5393 Mobile / 614-292-7162 Fax