How to Identify Genetically Modified Food at the Grocery Store

A loyal Disher (h/t DG) sends  a link to a recent newsletter by Dr. Dirt. His parents know him as Howard Garrett, the multi-media writer/talker of all things growing. Anywhoo, Dr. Dirt has a quick guide to identifying genetically modified food in the grocery store. So if you’d like a little less Monsanto in your morning meal, check this out.

Many consumers don’t realize that the FDA does not require genetically modified food to be labeled. That’s because the FDA has decided that you don’t care if the tomato you are eating has been cross bred with frog genes to render the tomato more resistant to cold weather. Some consumers may not be concerned with eating “Franken Food”, but for those who are, here is how to determine if the fruits and vegetables you’re buying are (GM) genetically modified.

For conventionally grown fruit (grown with chemicals inputs), the PLU code on the sticker consists of four numbers. Organically grown fruit has a five-numeral PLU prefaced by the number 9. Genetically engineered (GM) fruit has a five-numeral PLU prefaced by the number 8. Example: A conventionally grown banana would be 4011. An organically grown banana would be 94011. A genetically engineered banana would be 84011.

Dr. Dirt has more guidelines for steering clear of GM foods in your diet. Click here. If you have questions on this newsletter or any other topic, check his radio show schedule. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.


  • What a great way to keep track! Thanks for sharing.

  • squirt

    thanks nancy!! now THIS is news you can use!

  • dk
  • NOT ACCURATE INFO!!! God, I wish I’d stop seeing this myth getting spread around the web!
    The PLU code is a SUGGESTED guideline that no producer EVER uses: “If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.” – Norman Braksick, president of Asgrow Seed Co., a subsidiary of Monsanto, quoted in the Kansas City Star, March 7, 1994
    If you want to avoid GMOs, buy organic. If you can’t find organic, avoid all processed foods made w/ corn, soy, canola or their derivatives. You can get a non-GMO shopping guide at the Non-GMO Project’s website:
    Also – the tomatoes the writer is refrencing were crossbred w/ fish genes (arctic flounder, to be exact), not frog genes, and they are not currently on the market. PLEASE be a bit more diligent in your research before publishing, spreading misinformation, no matter how small, or unintentional, can damage the credibility of all of us working to rid the food supply of GMOs. Thank you!

  • what’s all the fuss. fake science food is great. who doesn’t love dippin’ dots?

  • Rebross

    I’m a fan of Howard Garrett, but Wikipedia is not a reliable source of information.