The Consumer Reports (CR) Food Safety and Sustainability Center has reportedly tested more than 80 processed foods for genetically engineered (GE) corn or soy, concluding that products labeled “natural” contained GE ingredients in levels comparable to those of their conventional counterparts. After analyzing breakfast cereals, bars, corn chips and tortillas, baking mixes and flour, meat and dairy substitutes, and tofu/tempeh, CR reported that (i) the majority of corn and soy identified in conventional products was genetically modified; (ii) products deemed “no GMO” by the manufacturer were less than 0.9 percent GE corn or soy; and (iii) products bearing third-party “Organic” or “Non GMO Product Verified” claims also contained negligible amounts of  GE corn or soy. Based on these findings, CR has dubbed “Natural” labels “not meaningful,” as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not enforce any formal definition for this label.

In addition, CR Food Safety and Sustainability Center Executive Director Urvashi Rangan wrote an October 6, 2014, letter urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate one corn-chip product made with “significant amounts of genetically engineered (GE) corn” despite its “no-GMO” label. According to the letter, six different packages of Xochitl Totopos de Maiz original corn chips had “an average of more than 75% GE corn content,” although the company’s Organic White Corn Chips apparently met their certified organic and GMO claims.

“Vermont recently passed legislation requiring GMO labeling, and similar actions are being considered in more than two dozen other states, including Colorado and Oregon, where residents will begin voting on a GMO-labeling ballot initiative in late October,” notes CR in an October 2014 article about the testing process. “There is fierce opposition to GMO labeling from many seed manufacturers and big food companies, which have spent nearly $70 million in California and Washington state alone to defeat GMO-labeling ballot initiatives.”