Popcorn is a sacred food in this house. I’m not much of a snacker, but popcorn holds a special place in my heart. When slathered in rich, pastured butter and dowsed in sea salt, popcorn transforms any occasion into a celebration.
When I first chose to avoid GMOs years ago, there were two strains of corn that had still not been modified scientifically: blue corn and popcorn. Turns out that blue corn no longer makes that list. So we now shop non-GMO and/or organic anytime we buy all corn products.
According to a GMO expert, popcorn remains unchanged genetically. It’s literally the last corn standing.
Here’s what blogger Elizabeth Yarnell has to say:
At the Seeds of Doubt conference recently, Jeffery Smith, executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology and GMO expert, assured us that even though almost 90% of the corn grown and eaten in this country is GMO corn, popcorn comes from a different seed and has not been genetically modified.
So, while you should assume that your Doritos brand corn chips and those sweet corn cobs on sale at the grocery store are Genetically Modified even though they are not labeled as such, you’ll never have to worry about your popcorn being GMO. Makes you feel a little bit better about ordering that large tub at the movie theater!
I double checked with the Institute For Responsible Technology website and was able to confirm that popcorn does not cross-pollinate with GMO varieties of yellow and white corn.
I still prefer to buy organic popcorn for my family, since there are dozens of pesticides heavily sprayed on conventional crops. Popcorn.org developed an agri-chemical handbook to inform consumers and popcorn-related industries “about the status of pesticide products that are registered for use on popcorn or in popcorn storage facilities.” There are giant lists of pesticides, insecticides, fumigants, and fungicides deployed around popcorn crops. Needless to say, it’s much simpler to buy organic than to read up on potential warnings and dangers of each chemical compound.
Read My Comment Policy
Is there a kind of corn you can eat off the cob that is GMO free? Also, is it possible to find organic, GMO-free oil, blue tortilla/corn chips anywhere?
I think there’s a risk of cross-contamination with all sweet corn now, so you can never know for sure. Regarding the blue tortilla chips, I’d say if they were 100% blue corn fried in sunflower/safflower or coconut oil you’d be pretty safe. I’m not a huge fan of sunflower/safflower oil, but it’s definitely not GMO and sometimes I think that’s good enough 🙂
One thing to watch for with Popcorn is that GMO crops require that 20% of the farmers plants have to be a “refuge” plant, aka not GMO. Many conventional GMO corn farmers use Popcorn as their refuge plant, so they are exposed to many of the same chemicals. So, go organic Popcorn for the pesticides, not the GMOs.
In other news, I saw a popped popcorn snack that proudly said “NON GMO POPCORN,” yet popped with conventional GMO canola oil.
Definitely agree on going organic for all corn products. And wow, that’s really sad.
Whoa… My family (except for me) eats TONS of corn chips and other corn products, including pop corn. Personally, I find that the blue corn tastes better that yellow or white, which is the main reason I can say “no.” My brother loves his pop corn, though, so even though he nukes it in the microwave and it’s loaded with artificial flavors, at least it’s not GMO. Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing!
Please do some research on microwave popcorn.
The lining of the bag gives off carcinogenic chemical gases when heated. I for one will never be buying them again – in
Less certified safe and chemical free.
We have allowed PROFITS to be put ahead of health in this country. SAD
YAY!! Popcorn is literally my all-time favorite food! I prefer white popcorn, but haven’t found organic white where I live so I’ve settled for organic yellow. It’s great to know I can enjoy white without worry of GMO!
HI LeAnn! From what I understand some white corn varieties are GMO, but the variety specifically used for popcorn isn’t.
Great post! Thanks for the info….so glad to hear about pop corn kernals…it had been heavy on my mind for a while now….but no more! Yeah!
Is it possible to obtain seeds for blue corn and grow them at home? Just curious – since it seems that all other fresh corn is likely tainted with GMOs.
Yellow, Orange, Green and Blue Corn:
I miss corn tortillas!!!! =(
I do too. I trying to find organic corn tortillas in my area.
I purchased a tortilla press and learned to make my own. They’re so look yummy.
I buy Organic yellow or white corn tortillas from Sprouts Grocery Store, Natural Grocers which is owned by Vitamin Cottage, and Whole Foods.
Sometimes, I can find other stores, like Safeway, Kroger’s, City Market, that do carry some Organic tortillas made by Mission Tortillas brand
Sometimes in the west coast stores from Calif to Washington Sate there are other grocery store chains that carry Organic corn tortillas… like Ralph’s, Trader Joe’s, and probably others if you google it.
Make your own from organic corn masa that is sold from health food stores. It’s not that hard to do, just time consuming.
oh the madness!!! GMO and pesticides are in almost EVERYTHING. this is very scary. ahhh!
Boy, do I wish I knew this a week ago! My husband and I just purchased our seeds for this years garden and had worked very hard trying to find some heirloom corn seeds so we would not have to worry about GMO’s. We did buy Japanese White Hull-less popcorn seeds, but the rest were either Golden Bantam Sweet Corn or Country Gentleman. So…do you cut out all corn products from your diet or what?
I’m not sure. Daniel and I are thinking we’ll try blue corn if we decide to plant any next year.
What is a non-gmo popcorn I can buy?
Hi Jennifer! According to the Institute For Responsible Technology, all popcorn is non-GMO. I personally would still get an organic brand though, because conventional corn is heavily sprayed with pesticides.
yay!!!!!!! thank you for the good news…and so easy to remember
My husband and I were JUST talking about this! He is going to be gardening on an acre this spring and selling to a local farmer. He said he wanted to do Blue Corn for fun and the first thing I said was, “is it non GMO??” (he already knew) what good timing!! Can you make tortillas and cornbread out of the cornmeal? I’m going to have to do some research!
Yes you can. Just google the process of making corn masa. The whole dried corn kernel has to be first soaked in a food grade lye water solution overnight, to loosen the hard outer skin, then rinse off the outer skin, then grind the remaining corn kernel in a meat grinder with special blades to make it soft mushy masa. From there on it is ready to go!
You can zip lock freezer bag of 16 oz. amounts, or less, of fresh masa to freeze for one year later. Just check it for freezer burn, if it is not airtight freezer grade bags then use it within a couple weeks.
It could stay plastic bagged in refrigerator for about one week and still be ok to use.
Makes a tastier fresh ground corn tortilla… much better than ones which were made with dried corn masa from the store bought package.
I would try using organic popping corn, to make my own masa, but follow the recipe on Google that shows the proper authentic corn mass preparation.
Organic popping corn is safer to use, because it’s free of any pesticides…but, conventional and non GMO popping corn are not pesticides free… are very heavy sprayed with pesticides and problably Roundup.
What about the BPA in the plastic bags?
So happy to see I can still get some good ‘ol corn without GMO’s..I want to try to make tortilla chips one of these days! 🙂
Thanks for doing the research on this,
Great post. Can you share any of your favorite brands that are Non-GMO and Organic?
I buy products from TJ’s (Trader Joes) – they state that all of their label/brand are GMO free. They have both organic and regular. Unfortunately we cannot use the organic cause we have a sea-salt allergy, but the regular ones don’t seem to cause us any problems. My sister didn’t switch, and she developed a severe allergy to all corn, EXCEPT pop-corn. I keep telling her it’s the GMO’s.
I find it hard to believe that popcorn is non-GMO when Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn is trademarked. A generic bag of popcorn at the grocery lists the ingredient as “popcorn” and the Orville (or other) brands say something like, “Orville Redenbacher popcorm (TM)”
Orville’s popcorn seeds are labeled Non-GMO, but they use palm oil that might be GMO & while the corn is growing it is sprayed with pesticides. So it’s partially Non-GMO, but not organic. I still give in & eat a mini size portion now & then, but I think I’ll buy an old fashioned popper & buy my own seeds like my Dad did (more fun for the kids anyways) 🙂
I have to comment on the popcorn. I have a funny suspicion about it. If I eat non organic, I get the SAME reaction I do if I eat GMO corn. But I can eat organic no problem.
Your reaction to non-organic popcorn may be from the pesticides. As I understand from a previous poster, the same pesticides are used for non-organic popcorn as regular corn. Also, I’ve read that cottonseed oil is gmo. So, avoid anything soy, cottonseed, canola (rapeseed) and corn.
PLEASE UPDATE THIS INCORRECT INFO! I called Orville reddenbacher sevarl months ago, and they confirmed that ALL the POPCORN IS GMO!! Or, “genetically enhanced,” as they like to say.
You MUST buy organic if you want to avoid GMO popcorn. Newmans Own and Trader Joes are the only I know of.
Thanks for going the extra mile, without even being asked!
As of 2014, some of the new Orville’s popcorn boxes are labeled Non-GMO. However, its still not organic.
Yes, you’re absolutely right, popcorn comes from a different seed that’s not genetically modified. We don’t have to worry about popcorn being GMO! Visit: Genetically Modified Foods in America | Health Documentary http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vd_X1-moZkc
47.08/57.06 (at this point in the video)
Do microwave popcorn bags have anything in them besides corn? Or does the corn have oil on it? Just wondering if the oil is also GMO free. Thanks!
Yes, they often have chemicals, unhealthy oils, etc. I personally always make my popcorn using an air popper or on the stove 🙂
I’m a little confused..
You’ve stated “According to the Institute For Responsible Technology, blue corn does not cross-pollinate with GMO varieties.”
but when I clicked the link to their site it tells me this…
“What seeds are at risk?
Currently commercialized GM crops in the U.S. include soy (94%), cotton (90%), canola (90%), sugar beets (95%), corn (88%), Hawaiian papaya (more than 50%), zucchini and yellow squash (over 24,000 acres). (Number in parentheses represents the estimated percent that is genetically modified.) Blue corn cross-pollinates with current GM corn varieties. And now, with the sugar beet growers going GM, there is the possibility of cross-pollination into other beet varieties and near relatives, such as chard. All but soy cross-pollinates.”
They say it does cross-pollinate…Where did you find that it says otherwise? I can’t seem to find it.
Nooooo! They must have updated their info recently, because the last time I checked they did not cross-pollinate. I am so sad about this because I was planning on planting blue corn this year. Will update the post!
Thanks so much for checking!
From what I am reading 90 something percent of Americans do NOT want their food GMO contaminated, What can we do to bring back the traditional farmer?
Even the bee’s are dying at an alarming rate because of the GMO.
Wish I could find Non-GMO sweet corn where I live (Lancaster County, PA)! I would love to freeze about 40 dozen for my growing family. I ask people selling corn if its GMO or not & they look at me like I have 2 heads or something. I even found corn labeled organic at a farmer’s market, but they said it was GMO seed that was grown organically without pesticides. I feel like its a losing battle & I don’t have enough space right now to grow corn. Does anyone know of a website that lists organic & non-GMO farmers & where to buy? Thanks!
I’ve been researching a lot about GMO’s and am now more informed and more depressed than ever!
Why conventional popcorn sucks, and what you can do about it – By Lou Bendrick
Boo! Happy autumn – please don’t be sucked into toxic Halloween garbage
(“What is Trader Joe’s hiding?”)
All corn can, will and does cross pollinate with other varieties of corn planted nearby. All corn varieties are from the same species so they will cross if given the chance. Non gmo corn can become contaminated in a variety of ways from contaminated planting seed or pollen on the wind. There is a natural trait bring bred into organic varieties that makes organic corn not easily except pollen from different varieties.
I bought some stone ground white corn meal today,( Indian head brand). Is this type still a risk for gmo contamination?
very informative, found this post after googling about whether blue corn was GMO or not. I buy blue corn chips, but they are the Aldi organic variety, and I’m a popcorn lover too! I was willing to put up with it being GMO, but happy to find your blog post and find out it isn’t!
Does anyone know if sunflower and/or safflower oil are laden with pesticides? We buy G.H. Cretor organic popcorn; ingredients: organic corn, sea salt and sunflower or safflower oil.
thanks! The thought of all the pesticides, fumigants, fungicides in the crops and in the storage bins – omg.
Hi, it’s Andie – must correct my recent post. G.H. Cretor organic popcorn popped in olive oil contains only: organic popcorn, organic sea salt and organic extra virgin olive oil. My question about safflower and sunflower oil was in regard to a brand called Boomchickapop.