Foods with a high risk of being genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, include alfalfa, canola, corn, soy and sugar beets. Summer squash, zucchini, cotton and papaya are other common GMO crops. Some food ingredients that are derived from GMO crops include high fructose corn syrup, molasses, sucrose and ascorbic acid.
Some crops, such as rice, flax, wheat, chard and turnips, are monitored for GMO contamination. Rutabaga, Siberian kale, bok choy, Chinese cabbage and acorn squash are also regularly monitored. Monitored crops have suspected or known incidents of GMO contamination, or they have a chance of cross-pollination with related GMO crops that are currently in commercial production. These monitored crops move into the high-risk category if testing reveals consistent GMO contamination.
Although tomatoes were the first genetically modified crops produced, they were soon taken off the market due to flavor issues. Genetically modified potatoes were first produced in 1996, but production was discontinued in 2001 because of consumer rejection. As of 2015, no GMO tomatoes or potatoes are in commercial production.
A GMO is defined as an organism whose genetic makeup has been altered in a laboratory using genetic engineering. Genetic engineering creates artificial combinations of plant, animal, virus and bacteria genes.