GMOs found in many packaged foods labeled 'natural' - Consumer Reports

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New Consumer Reports tests found genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in many packaged foods including those labeled 'natural.'

New Consumer Reports tests found genetically modified organisms in many packaged foods including those labeled "natural."

About 90 percent of corn produced in the U.S. is now genetically modified. The same is true with soybeans.

Consumer Reports' tests show that GMOs can be in lots of foods like cereals, some snack bars and soy-based infant formulas.

Labeling is not required, and you can't tell by looking at the package, although some may say "No GMO," "Non GMO" or "Non-GMO Project Verified."

Consumer Reports tested a variety of products containing soy or corn for GMOs, at least two samples of each, each from a different lot.

"Unless they were labeled organic, the vast majority of products without a specific claim regarding GMOs actually did contain a substantial amount," said Michael Crupain, M.D., director of Consumer Reports' Food Safety and Sustainability Center.

What about foods with a "natural" label? A Consumer Reports' survey of 1,000 people found that more than 60 percent believe "natural" means no GMOs. That's not what the tests found.

"There is no legal definition for the claim 'natural' on processed foods. Virtually all the samples we tested that said 'natural' but didn't make claims about being organic or non GMO in fact contained a high percentage of GMOs," said Crupain.

Then there are unverified claims like "Non GMO." Though not independently certified, they mostly proved accurate in Consumer Reports' tests.

There was one exception: Xochitl corn chips labeled "no GMO" actually contained a high proportion of GMO corn in all six samples tested. However, the brand's "organic" white corn chips did meet Consumer Reports' standards for non-GMO.

"Our findings confirmed that the most reliable labels for avoiding GMOs are 'Non-GMO Project Verified' or organic - both independently certified," said Crupain.

A spokesperson for Xochitl chips told Consumer Reports that the company and its supplier "are both baffled" by Consumer Reports' test results.

And while scientists at Consumers Union say currently there isn't enough research to determine GMOs are harmful to people, they do feel they have the potential to introduce allergens and other unintended changes that may affect health.

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