There’s been a lot of talk about genetically modified foods (also known as GMOs or genetically engineered foods) in the news recently. In case you’re wondering why and what it’s all about, we’re here to help. Read through our simple guide to the issue and let us know if you have any questions at the end!

What are genetically engineered (GE) foods or genetically modified organisms (GMOs)?

GE foods or GMOs are plant or meat products that have had their DNA altered by the addition of genes from another species (e.g., bacteria), which are often introduced to prevent spoilage, fight against pests and insects, and breed viral, pesticide, and antibiotic resistance.

According to the Institute for Responsible Technology, Center for Food Safety, and Just Label It, the most common GE crops in the United States include soy, cotton, corn, canola, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, zucchini, yellow squash, and alfalfa.

What’s the hubbub about?

Currently, the FDA doesn’t require companies to provide evidence that genetically modified foods are safe for consumption before they are marketed to the public. Nor does the agency require labeling of foods with genetically engineered or modified ingredients. The FDA has determined it has no basis for concluding that bioengineered foods are different from other foods in any meaningful way or that they present different or greater safety concerns than traditionally grown foods.

In response to the lack of federal oversight, labeling bills have been proposed in more than a dozen states including California over the past year. If passed in November, California’s Proposition 37 would be the first law requiring that genetically modified foods carry a label so consumers can make an informed choice about what they buy and eat. While the United States has yet to pass any federal or state labeling requirements (although this could change with upcoming election), more than 50 countries including Japan, China, Russia, and those in the European Union require GMO labeling.

Why does this matter?

While there is ongoing debate about the impact of GMOs on your health, many advocates in favor of labeling want the biotech and food industries to be transparent about how our food is grown/made and what is actually in it. They’re especially concerned because over 70% of processed foods found in the grocery store contain GMOs, and the consumer can’t easily make an informed purchase since there are no labels.

Further underscoring the need to give consumers choice, we just don’t know enough about GMOs, the associated benefits or risks, and the consequences for our bodies and the environment. To date, no studies evaluating the long-term impact of engineered food have been conducted.  So, there’s no proof that there are health benefits or an increase in nutritional value. In fact, the two main traits that have been genetically added to crops are herbicide tolerance and the ability for the plants to produce their own pesticide.

Do GMOs trigger allergies? Increase toxicity? Impact the development of our nervous system? Hinder immunity? Have a negative impact on the environment and agriculture? All these unknowns are unsettling.

And most Americans agree. According to polls conducted over the past few years by a number of sources ranging from MSNBC to the Washington Post to Consumer Reports, approximately 90% of Americans think GMO food should be labeled.

What can you do?

– Because organic foods are not allowed to contain GMOs, try to buy and eat it when possible (look for the USDA Organic Seal and Non-GMO labels). And generally make it a goal to eat fresh instead of processed foods. This is most important for kids because their developing bodies are the most vulnerable to toxics.

– Use the Center for Food Safety’s shopping guide to determine which foods are the best to buy and which should be avoided.

– Tell the FDA that you have a right to know what’s in your food by joining over a million Americans in signing a petition.

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45 thoughts on “Understanding GMOs & What it Means for Your Food

  1. I am so glad you are talking about GMO’s. But why do you use them in your products? I stopped using your diapers when I realized they were made with genetically modified ingredients because even though it isn’t being used for consumption, you are still supporting the growing of GMO’s and therefore contamination of non-GMO and organic crops. Please find another source!

    Thank you.

        1. They definitely use GMO’s. Ask them yourself, I did. They especially use genetically modified ingredients for the filler in their diapers and who knows what else.

      1. We use GMO as raw material stock for PLA. It is perfect for this use – NO pesticides are sprayed to produce it, it is not ingested, and by the time it is finally rendered as a finished material it has no resemblance to its precursor raw material (we discuss this in more detail in the answer above). Here is a link to the site with information about what our plant based material is made of: Please let us know if you have other questions!

    1. Thanks for your question – GMOs are definitely on our radar!

      We’d love to use non-GMO ingredients in all of our products some day, but right now it’s simply not feasible.

      There is currently only one facility in the US that processes corn into plastic (for things like the PLA we use in our diapers). Unfortunately, at this facility there’s no method for processing non-GMO corn separately from GMO corn, so it all gets mixed together. Fortunately, the corn is broken down and processed to such an extent that the molecular make-up is completely transformed and none of the GMO attributes remain in the final product.

      In regards to our other products, anything listed as “organic” cannot be a GMO. And, for the most part, the other ingredients we use are not ones that are genetically modified crops. Here’s a list of the GMO crops you should be looking out for:

      Please let us know if you have any more questions. We’re here to help!

  2. BT is a virus that used in GMOs as a pesticide it is a naturally occurring virus and is also
    sprayed by organic farmers. The BT virus causes some of the side effects that
    are linked to GMOs. Please know that organic does not mean that they don’t
    spray to prevent bug infestations and preservation of their crops!

    I’m not in favor of GMOs, but I think there is huge misunderstanding of what organic means and the media is perpetuating it. Organic farming is basically farming pre 1940’s prior to the technology developed in WWII. Think local, think sustainable, think organic
    if it you want and try to a combination of any of the three.

      1. BT is a bacterium, not a virus. Also, bacteria is never “sprayed” onto crops to prevent pests. Geneticists figured out a way to incorporate a bacterial gene that offers pesticide resistance when expressed in the plant. You do not have to worry about BT bacteria residing inside of your corn.

        You are absolutely right that organic farming allows the use of certain pesticides. These non-synthetic pesticides are approved by the EPA and USDA.

  3. This is a rather important issue, and everyone needs to be educated on it. Thanks for spreading the word about GMO and GE foods. CA, vote YES on Prop 37. We need to stop being the governments lab rats. We deserve to know what products contain GMO directly on the label! Thanks, sincerely Nadia – a concerned American.

    1. GMOs are definitely on our radar. We’d love to use non-GMO ingredients in all of our products some day, but right now it’s simply not feasible.There is currently only one facility in the US that processes corn into plastic (for things like the PLA we use in our diapers). Unfortunately, at this facility there’s no method for processing non-GMO corn separately from GMO corn, so it all gets mixed together. Fortunately, the corn is broken down and processed to such an extent that the molecular make-up is completely transformed and none of the GMO attributes remain in the final product. In regards to our other products, anything listed as “”organic”” cannot be a GMO. And, for the most part, the other ingredients we use are not ones that are genetically modified crops. Here’s a list of the GMO crops you should be looking out for:
      We hope this helps address your question, but please let us know if you have any others we can help with!

  4. How disapointing, I thought I had found the perfect diaper untill i found out that The Honest company uses GMO corn. Totally ruined my day… I even fell in love with the little anchors and skulls because my husband and I love to sail. How can you say your helping protect mother earth when your company sources from something as distructive as genetic engineering? Its GMO free or nothing for my family, well back to washing cloth diapers for me I guess.

    1. Hi Sarah, thanks for reaching out with your concerns. We do use GMO corn as raw material stock for the PLA and bio-core of our diapers. It is perfect for this use – NO pesticides are sprayed to produce it, it is not ingested, and by the time it is finally rendered as a finished material it has no resemblance to its precursor raw material. Check out a detailed list of ingredients here:

      We’d love to use non-GMO ingredients in all of our products some day, but right now it’s simply not feasible. There is currently only one facility in the US that processes corn into plastic (for things like the PLA we use in our diapers). Unfortunately, at this facility there’s no method for processing non-GMO corn separately from GMO corn, so it all gets mixed together. Fortunately, the corn is broken down and processed to such an extent that the molecular make-up is completely transformed and none of the GMO attributes remain in the final product. We hope this helps address your questions. Please let us know if we can provide any additional help. And, of course, we’ll share your feedback with our product development team.

        1. Hi Sarisha – You’re absolutely right and it was an error on our part to claim otherwise. There are different types of GMO corn – “Round-Up Ready” was created to tolerate the pesticides and “Bt corn” was created to eliminate the need for pesticides, but time has shown it still requires some. It’s a complicated and imperfect system and we’re just doing our best to navigate within it. Here’s a little about the balancing act required to make an Honest product and our long term vision:

          Thanks for adding your voice and making this conversation even more educational!

        2. Thank you Sarisha! I knew that about round up ready but forgot! Very Bad for “HONESTLY” to not put that out there in the beginning. Sorry but this is pathetic since the whole gist of what makes you different is supposedly your commitment to being honest. Say no to MONSANTO! NO to GMO’s!

    2. So you’re not concerned that cotton in the US is GMO? Unless you’re growing your own flax and sewing your own linen diapers?

  5. I’m interested in the Childrens multivitamin but I don’t see that it is GMO free. Why not? I see the infant/toddler is GMO free though. Thanks

    1. Probably because “beet color” is GMO.

      I would also like an answer to this question. I wrote asking the same question over two months ago, and still no answer. Please Honest, reply.

  6. i cannot believe I am wasting a fortune on this GMO product.If this doesnt make any difference than any other GMO diapers, then i just dont think that it is worth the money to spend so much on their diapers. Kroger brand Comforts diapers has natural diapers that are chlorine free for $6.99 per 31 pc. diapers compare to Honest’s $13.99 or something. Why spend more if you can the same results with other brand that offers the same benefits? Just so disappointing. Anyway, i just placed an order yesterday for another diaper bundle because i got a 40% off coupon but it is sad to say that this will be my very last time buying this. I feel like I have been deceived on how they advertise everything to be so much better and makes you feel that you are making the best choices for your kid but it turns out, they support something that is banned in other countries because of its dangerous effects on human and the environment. This is a rip off.

    1. Hi Anna, thank you for your very thoughtful input. Using GMOs is certainly not ideal and we’re committed to avoiding them as much as possible in all of our products. In this case, the fact of the matter is that the market for this particular type of plant-based ingredient is still budding and the sourcing isn’t adequately accessible or reliable for large-scale production quite yet. We’re definitely hoping with the growth of our company and the demand of our community, we can create change in the system! We’d gladly prefer to use non-GMO, organic, sustainable plant sources for everything!

      In the meantime, we felt plant-based (even GM) was preferable to petroleum-based. It’s never an easy choice (read more about the balancing act and long-term vision here:
      In regards to the final product, it is indeed free of any genetically-modified material and tested/certified by GeneScan Inc., which is recognized by both government and NGO’s as the leading authority for testing food, feed and raw materials. Since we’re currently stuck between a rock and a hard place on the raw material sourcing, the very least we can do is ensure the final product is as safe as possible!

      One final note: while we believe transitioning from petroleum to corn is a step in the right direction, we’re extremely eager for the next step – transitioning to more sustainable sources like cellulosic raw materials, agricultural wastes, and non-food plants. This is exactly the direction our raw material provider is going and we’re happy to support them on that mission.

      We do hope you’ll reconsider the situation and support us on our mission, as well. We need everyone’s help if we want to change the marketplace. Together we can make it better!

      1. Lets be Honest! Jessica Alba is a proud supporter of Hillary Clinton. This political choice doesn’t exactly jive with her company’s mission. Hillary is a huge MONSANTO supporter.

  7. Very disappointed in you Jessica Alba! “Natural” diapers using GMOs… I will cancel my bundle subscription!
    Even if there might be no harm for my baby, since she wearing the gmo diapers but not eating gmo food, buying a product that uses GMO’s means supporting the GMO crop agriculture =supporting Monsanto = compromising the future of this planet.
    A shame Honest can’t do better than that!

  8. While GMO products are up for debate, people seldom consider the benefits of GMOs. Look at Golden rice. Scientists were able to splice a gene to produce vitamin A in rice that benefits countries where this deficiency was a big deal. So while in countries like the United States we are battling having labels (which I agree is a valid desire), I think we need to think more globally about the possible benefits for resistance against disease or for maintaining diets for the poor or malnourished.

    1. We used to provide food for several 3rd World Countries that now refuse our food because they would rather their people starve then be riddled with disease and cancer caused by GMO’s.

  9. Genetically modified plants are relatively new to the agricultural world with the first seeds available in the late 1990’s. It is reasonable for the public to be apprehensive about the use of genetically modified organisms in food consumed directly by humans and food consumed by livestock that human will then eat. Studies have proven that genetically modified crop out produces their hybrid counterpart which is good for the farmer and the consumer. Studies have also proven that genetically modified corn does not effect a cow or the milk that the cow can produce for human consumption. Overall, genetically modified crops present more positives than negatives and should not be feared by the general public. With more research being conducted yearly, the benefits of genetically modified crops will become more popular for their positive influence in agriculture.

  10. Genetically modified organisms are not harmful to the environment
    or to human’s health. There has been over 2000 scientific experiments teste on
    this issue and from around 235 different institutions these scientists have
    claimed that genetically modified organisms are just as safe as organic crops. The Golden Rice Project proves that by genetically engineering a crop that it changes the world in a positive way. The vitamin A deficiency causes nearly two million deaths in children every year. In 2000, the engineered rice was developed and now produced 50% of the RDA of vitamin A for children ages one to three. Modifying this crop has positively changed the world and is saving lives and helping these children and adults get the nutrients they need. There are both sides to this argument but when a consumer researches the true facts they will find there is no real proof for either sides. The fact that genetically modifying a crop can save the world and help the farmers and ranchers continue to feed the world, seems like enough information to me. The consumers need to be more educated with the hard facts compared to what the world is saying. The population is increasing an intense rate and the land available is decreasing. With this technique farmers will be able to increase yields with fewer acres and still manage to feed the world. Below I attached an outstanding article on genetically modified organisms where most my information came from, take a look at it and it might change your view on this hot topic.

    Key, Suzie, Julian K-C Ma, and Pascal MW Drake.
    “Genetically modified plants and human health.” Journal of the
    Royal Society of Medicine. The Royal Society of Medicine, 01 June 2008. Web. 01
    Mar. 2017. .

  11. Genetic Modified Organisms – Scary or Not:

    I’ve been thinking quite a lot recently about the issue of genetically modified organisms (GMO – used both for singular and plural), sometimes also referred to as genetic engineering (GE). Genetic modification or engineering involves the replacement, substitution, addition or subtraction of specific genes in an organism’s genome. The genome is essentially all the genes (i.e. DNA) contained within the chromosomes of an organism and is what makes a lion, a lion or, a carrot, a carrot. Altering one or more genes in an organism can lead to altered characteristics of the organism itself. However, as we will learn, GE cannot turn a lion into a carrot with a mane and claws, or any other kind of Frankenlion for that matter.

    GMO are important for humans as the world faces increasing challenges related to both the production and supply of ample food for a rapidly expanding population. In addition, GE is also showing promise as a novel, more cost effective and safer approach for things such as: 1) controlling crop pests and other diseases that affect agricultural productivity, 2) preventing the spread of diseases such as the Zika virus and Dengue fever which are carried by mosquitos, and 3) refinement and conversion of fossil fuels into products for the energy and chemical industries.

    As with any new technology GMO have engendered a considerable amount of fear and misunderstanding regarding both GMO safety and, for want of a better description “messing with what God created”. Indeed, many states and countries are considering, or have already enacted, specific GMO labeling laws for products.

    The Borlaug Dialog is an international symposium that: “each year brings together over 1,200 people from more than 65 countries to address cutting-edge issues related to global food [production, agriculture] security and nutrition” (Click here to learn more about the Borlaug Dialogue). At the 2016 conference, RJ Kirk the CEO of a company called Intrexon (Intrexon Website) gave an excellent talk about GMO and the technophobia surrounding GE. To watch a video of Kirk’s 30 min presentation click here (RJKirk presentation); the video is well worth viewing and I recommend it highly.

    While technophobia is real and should not be summarily dismissed as a manifestation of ignorance or stupidity, it is important for us to recognize that the earth is not flat, creation is more than 6000 years old, and when it comes to GMO foods, they do not require a special label. The fact is, everything you eat is a GMO food. In the mid 1800’s Gregor Mendel conducted some of the first bonafide experiments in GE by interchanging seven distinct genetic characteristics (i.e. genes) between pea plants through hybridization, or breeding. Every food on the planet that is grown, harvested and eaten is a GMO and has been engineered over the millennia either through selective breeding (i.e. GE) or evolution. Furthermore, when you eat a steak, a lobster, a pea, or a carrot, you are literally consuming its genes and the proteins its genes encode. Why should it matter if scientists can efficiently insert a pea gene into a carrot to create a better carrot? You’d be exposed to the same genes and proteins when eating peas and carrots as you would if you ate only the GMO hybrid pea/carrot.

    You know that little dog you may occasionally see being pushed around in a dog stroller? That dog is actually a genetically modified wolf! Quite an embarrassment for both the dog and its owner but, I digress. In truth, all living things are GMO. Each one of us is a GMO, the product of gene exchanges from a direct line of literally billions of ancestors…you had two parents, each of them had two parents…do the math…2, 4, 16, 256, 65,536, etc., etc. You get the picture. Perhaps each of us should have GMO tattooed on our foreheads as a warning to others that we are genetically modified! OMG, now that’s scary.

    In future posts, I will address the truth about GMO and the technology behind GE. I will discuss the pro’s and con’s of GMO as food as well as their use as tools to aid in the production of food and prevent the spread of disease. In addition, the reader will learn how genes and the proteins they encode are processed when we eat food and why, as a result, we should have little to fear when it comes to GMO foods or technologies. I believe that in the end, you will have a more clear and truthful understanding of GMO and realize that man has actually been conducting GE since the dawn of human civilization. If you would like to gain a better understanding of DNA, the genome and genes, you can find a clear and entertaining discussion of this topic in my book, Splitting Creation available on Amazon and other book retailers. You can also visit my blog ( to learn more truth about GMO.

  12. Genetically modified organisms, also referred to as GMO’s, are extremely
    detrimental to our environment and health. There are numerous studies
    that portray the negative and positive effects of GMO foods. Most
    studies that express the benefits of genetically modified foods are
    facilitated by the same company selling GMO foods. These studies use
    small sample sizes, skewed data and show adverse, unexplained, results
    (Smith). The production of genetically modified food is not combating
    world hunger, it is instead feeding the fast food industries. Monsanto,
    the company that engineered genetically modified organisms, manufactured
    a rice fortified with vitamin A, also know as “Golden Rice”. “Golden
    Rice”’s incentive was to help people in countries where a majority of
    their population suffers from a vitamin A deficiency. Multiple studies
    prove that a Vitamin A deficiency is not a result of eating rice that
    has not been fortified with Vitamin A, but because their diet consists
    of only rice. These people live a life of poverty where their diet has
    been reduced to rice and nothing else. Monsanto spent over 70 million
    dollars advertising for their campaign to fight world hunger, which
    could have been spent to eliminate world poverty (Robbins). Genetically
    modified food is not the solution to world hunger or food surplus, it is
    instead the cause of obesity, disease, contamination, infertility and
    birth defects.

    Work Cited:

    John, Robbins. “Can GMO’s End World Hunger? “ Food Revolution, 12 Dec, 2012. Web. 25 April, 2017

    Smith, Jeffrey M, director. Genetic Roulette. White River Junction: Chelsea Green, 2012. Documentary.

    1. Hi Remi,
      Just to provide a little more info regarding GMOs. There has been countless studies regarding these and their effects in human health and the conclusion in most of them is that GM plants are nutritionally
      equivalent to their non-GM counterparts. So these aren’t the cause of obesity, disease, infertlity and birth defects, that depends on everyones diet, eating habits, education, characteristics of the person itself, and plenty of extrinsic and intrinsic factors. In conclusion regarding human health, they are as safe as conventional food, the problem is, just as non-GMO food, the amount of food you eat. The concern regarding GMOs is in the environmental area, because of cross pollination other crops can be contaminated, so the transgenic crop must be away from the conventional. This is also important because of the preservation of biodiversity. Here I’ll leave you some articles that talk about the safety of GMOs and I hope this information can be useful.

      Snell, C., Bernheim, A., Bergé, J. B., Kuntz, M., Pascal, G., Paris, A., & Ricroch, A. E. (2012). Assessment of the health impact of GM plant diets in long-term and multigenerational animal feeding trials: a literature review. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 50(3), 1134-1148.

      Rizzi, A., Raddadi, N., Sorlini, C., Nordgrd, L., Nielsen, K. M., & Daffonchio, D. (2012). The stability and degradation of dietary DNA in the gastrointestinal tract of mammals: implications for horizontal gene transfer and the biosafety of GMOs. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 52(2), 142-161.

      Ricroch, A. E. (2013). Assessment of GE food safety using ‘-omics’ techniques and long-term animal feeding studies. New biotechnology, 30(4), 349-354.

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