10 Genetically Modified Crops on the Market 

Genes are the building blocks of all living beings, and certain genes are more favorable than others for survival. Luckily, advances in science have allowed us to speed up this process for the foods we eat.

Close-up of sweet corn cob in organic corn field

Humans can change the genetic makeup of food crops to select optimal characteristics, whether it’s to create plague-resistant wheat, giant oranges, or seedless watermelons. 

We call these foods “genetically modified,” or GMO for short. While GMO food has faced some criticism, you might be surprised to learn that many foods are genetically modified.

Common GMO Foods

Below, you can find a list of the most common GMO foods. 


Derived from various rapeseed varieties, Canola is one of the most pervasively used and oldest vegetable oils in the world. Canola oil has both edible and industrial uses.

rapeseed field with canola oil

Canola oil is one of the most accessible staples worldwide, and you can find it at any grocery or convenience store.

Rapeseed is naturally full of a harmful component called erucic acid, which damages the heart.

To make canola oil safe for consumption, canola oil uses genetically modified rapeseed varieties that collectively contain under 2% erucic acid.

Canola oil is a neutral oil that is cholesterol free, budget-friendly, and highly versatile. I use it for baking, popcorn, stir-frying, and salad dressings.


One of the New World’s greatest contributions, corn originated in Mexico and was domesticated by indigenous civilizations in Mexico and Central America thousands of years before the Spanish conquest.

Close-up of sweet corn cob in organic corn field

It has since become the key ingredient in nearly every food product on earth. In fact, corn production far exceeds that of wheat or rice

There are numerous corn varieties for consumption by humans and animals. Another use is as ethanol fuel.

A controversial byproduct of corn is corn syrup, used as a flavor enhancement, sweetening, and texture modification. 

As a whole food, corn comes in sweet and savory varieties as well as popcorn, corn flour, and fermented corn used in vodka and whiskey


Another Central American and Mexican native, papaya is a large, tropical fruit with inedible, light orange skin and soft, juicy deep orange fruit.


It has a distinct smell and flavor that is off-putting to many. I’d describe the smell as somewhere between rotten fruit and vomit.

The flavor palate is sweet and floral with a texture similar to cantaloupe or honeydew.

Other cultures use green papaya for savory and spicy salads, as a fibrous, tangy foundation to absorb vinegar, fish sauce, chilies, and a sprinkle of peanuts.

If you can get past the smell, freshly cut papaya is a delicious and nutrient-rich fruit that is low in sugar and aids digestion.


Cultivated and domesticated in East Asia, soybeans are one of the most genetically modified cultivars in the world.

soybeans and pod

Touted for their high-protein content, soybeans have numerous uses in culinary cultures. 

As whole beans, they offer a low-fat, high-protein snack. You have probably seen dry roasted soybeans in the bulk section of a health store or enjoyed steamed, salted edamame as an appetizer.

Processed forms of soybeans include tofu, tempeh, soybean oil, and soymilk. Fermented forms of soy include soy sauce, miso, and numerous other pastes.

I think miso and soy sauce are the best flavoring agents for stir-fries and sauces. They are the very definition of umami

Sugar Beets

Sugar beets are a cold climate crop that northern countries use to substitute sugar cane.

sugar beets in ground

If you’ve ever tried a beetroot, you know how sweet these root veggies taste. Sugar beets offer an even higher content of sucrose, akin to sugarcane.

Europeans and North Americans began cultivating sugar beet in the 18th century.

However, scientists and agriculturalists noted the potential for beets as a sweetening agent as far back as the 1500s. Today, sugar beets – not sugar cane – are used to make refined white sugar.

If you’ve ever baked a cake or added sugar to your coffee, it most likely came from sugar beets.


Alfalfa is a plant cultivated mostly for animal feed, but you’ve probably seen it as sprouts on salads or in sandwiches.

alfalfa sprouts in bowl

Alfalfa is rich in Vitamin K and a good source of other vitamins and minerals. 

Alfalfa has a subtle herbaceous taste, valued more for its texture than its flavor. Sprouted bread recipes also use alfalfa as a key ingredient.

I love alfalfa as a slightly crunchy and fibrous sandwich topping to use instead of lettuce.

I like pairing it with oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper to infuse flavor and soften the sprouts before adding them to toasted bread with the rest of the fix-ins.


Cotton, like sugar cane, has a long and turbulent history in the slave trade.

cottonseed oil

Its puffy fibers that serve as a protective layer for cotton seeds required a lot of human labor to harvest, thus being the basis for slave labor around the world.

These fibers create yarn used in clothes, sheets, and textiles to name a few. 

Manufacturers also process cottonseed for cottonseed oil, which is a popular vegetable oil you can use interchangeably with Canola or Soybean oil.

It’s also less expensive than canola oil. The most popular use of cottonseed oil is in potato chips as it’s one of the best oils for frying food.


While you might associate potatoes with Ireland, they actually come from the Americas.

Different types of potatoes in a sack on wooden rustic table

Peru and Bolivia are the birthplace of potatoes. There are hundreds of varieties of this deliciously starchy tuber.

After corn, wheat, and rice, potatoes are the largest staple food crop in the world.

Considering the diversity of varieties, potatoes are my favorite carbohydrate. They have inspired the most diverse array of dishes as well.

Mashed potatoes, French fries, baked potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and potato chips are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to potato dishes. 

Potatoes are rich in fiber and have fewer carbs and calories than wheat, rice, and corn. 


While potatoes encompass hundreds of varieties, there are over 7500 types of apple cultivars!

winesap apples

Originating in Central Asia, apples have been a staple fruit in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe for millennia.

They play a huge role in both culinary traditions and belief systems. Just consider the story of Adam and Eve, for example!

If you go to any grocery store in apple-growing countries, you’ll find at least five different types, ranging in color from yellow to red.

Flavors range from sweet to sour, and textures from crisp to dense. Some apples are meant for ciders, others for baking, but most are enjoyed as a snack.

My favorite apples are sweet, super crisp, and juicy Jazz apples.  


Zucchini is a type of squash with a green peel and white, seeded interior.


Squash is yet another New World cultivar, and zucchini may be the most widespread of the bunch.

They’re low in calories and rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, and potassium. 

Zucchini has a fairly neutral flavor that lends well to sweet and savory recipes. You’ll see them in sweet recipes like muffins and breakfast bread.

You can also eat them raw. The latest trend is spiralized zucchini as a substitute for pasta. I like zucchini grilled or roasted with a bit of olive oil to bring out a savory nuttiness.

Common GMO Foods

  1. Canola
  2. Corn
  3. Papaya
  4. Soybean
  5. Sugar Beets
  6. Alfalfa
  7. Cotton
  8. Potato
  9. Apples
  10. Zucchini

Did You Know These Crops are GMOs?

You might be surprised that these common foods are often genetically modified! GMOs are part of the future of foods, so tell us what you think in the comments!


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  1. GMO products will be the death of us grown in a toxic chemical soup. Seems everything man has tinkered with has produced more problems not advances. Return to organic, and at this point, regenerative farming and watch the climate hysteria decline and health return to this pharma and big ag induced sick country. Keep eating processed foods and you will make all the ‘bigs’ very rich and very happy not something I want to do.

  2. GMOs need to be banned. They are created to destroy the food supply not to improve it. GMOs feed pathogens and are treated as foreign invaders by the immune system. The nutrients in GMO foods are completely unusable. GMOs also destroy the natural environment. They are not compatible with Mother Nature. Shut down the Biotech and pharmaceutical industries destroying all life on the planet.

  3. I notice there is no mention of how GMO’s like canola are a high contaminant crop that crosses with barassica crops like cabbage chard , beets, farmers in Oregon are trying to get legislation passed to protect the willamette valley from being contaminated where they grow a large portion of the worlds barassica crops. An absolute sham and threat to bio diversity.
    Same story with corn, beets, soy.
    GMO hybrids and all the poison they require to grow have defiled a sacred crop that fed native people for thousands of years. Mexico is now fighting bullying from the U.S. to keep GMO. Corn from contaminating native varieties with stunning beauty and diversity. One grow out of gmo corn can contaminate thousands. Of years of farmer breeding work, all for greed and control.
    To my knowledge there are only one or two gmo apples. More insidious contamination is sure to occur.
    There used to be 8-9 000 varieties of apples , the big portion of that has gone extinct.
    There are still of lot left but not like it used to be 120 yrs ago.
    Now we have universities creating new cultivars which is fine except patenting the varieties and keeping them out of public domain small orchardist. Royalties are fine but don’t put a prison wall around the genetics.
    This goes on with too many crops.
    Now we even have 40 varieties of non gmo even organic lettuce with patents on colors ect ala johnnies, so gardeners and farmers can’t save seed. This problem is deeper than people realize.
    Fight for seed freedom and keep our crops in the public domain where they started.

  4. Please do an article about the covid vaccine in lettuces, other plants and meats, etc. I understand they are already adding the vaccine to our food chain. True or false?

  5. Seems like this article is promoting gmos and all comments are to stop eating them. This seems counter productive, what about educating on how to find out if the piece of food in front of us, is gmo or not.

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin is an editor and food writer who loves traveling and trying new foods and fun cocktails. Erin has been writing and editing professionally for 5 years since graduating from Temple University, and has been on the Restaurant Clicks team for 3 years. She has a long background working in the restaurant industry, and is an avid home chef and baker. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.