Common food labels designed to get your dollar: The ‘GMO-free’ label

Box of cereal with the Non GMO Project Verified logo 

Welcome back to my last article in my Common Foods Designed to Get Your Dollar series. This time I’m going to talk about the highly debatable “GMO-free” label.

There’s currently a “Non GMO Project Verified” label, which is a voluntary label created by a non-profit organization known as the Non-GMO Project. However for some people, a voluntary label isn’t sufficient; they would like a government-regulated and required label to go on all products that contain GMOs.

GMO-Free

“Practically every food you buy in a store for consumption by humans is genetically modified food. There are no wild, seedless watermelons. There’s no wild cows … You list all the fruit, and all the vegetables, and ask yourself, is there a wild counterpart to this? If there is, it’s not as large, it’s not as sweet, it’s not as juicy, and it has way more seeds in it. We have systematically genetically modified all the foods, the vegetables and animals that we have eaten ever since we cultivated them. It’s called artificial selection.” – Neil DeGrasse Tyson

GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are probably one of the most misperceived products in our food market. Fear mongering and websites (like Naturalnews.com and Foodbabe.com) that spread misinformation aren’t helping. Jimmy Kimmel’s team visited a farmer’s market to ask shoppers for their thoughts on GMOs.

Factoid on GMOs

Source: Common Ground.

There are only a select number of crops in the United States that are grown using this technology and all of them are for commercial purposes only. However, you can find a “GMO-free” label on food items that aren’t even grown using genetic engineering technologies. Seems odd, doesn’t it?

Not really. Many people are worried about GMOs in their food supply and when people are worried or fearful, companies with the “GMO-free” label stand to profit. Even though decades of research from university scientists and the USDA haven’t found anything dangerous about consuming GMO foods, people have chosen to turn a blind eye to scientific evidence and fall victim to one of the greatest marketing schemes. Why else would you find bottles of water labeled “GMO-free”?

The bottom line. It’s important to always remain skeptical, and that’s why research on the health effects of GMOs will continue for years to come. However due to the overwhelming amount of scientific evidence that GMOs are safe and the lack of evidence to suggest otherwise, you should be focusing on eating a wide variety of healthy fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy and lean meats.

Don’t forget that GMOs are used in the production of insulin, vitamins, ethanol (E-85), and are used in environmental waste clean up. It’s an important technology for sustaining the rapidly growing human population.

So that ends my series on Common Food Labels Designed to Get Your Dollar. Now that you have an understanding of these common labels, which ones surprise you the most? Will this new information influence the way you shop for you and your family?

Either way, I hope that the message is clear: We shouldn’t focus so much on the label on our foods, but more so on what foods we are purchasing for our families. Healthy fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and lean meats should be our focus, not an empty, meaningless label. I hope you enjoyed this series and I look forward to reading your comments!

– Joohi Castelvetere is a nutrition and food scientist and a mother to three amazing children.  She’s also a Parenting Program volunteer.


Read more:

  1. Overview of Food Ingredients, Additives, and Colors, Food and Drug Administration
  2. Hormones in Your Food, Thecowlocale
  3. Natural and other food labels that sound legitimate but may not be, CNN
  4. What are the benefits? (GMO crops), PBS

1 Response to “Common food labels designed to get your dollar: The ‘GMO-free’ label”


  1. 1 Anonymous October 1, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    Very interesting!


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