Oats being sprayed with glyphosate
Credit: Wikimedia Commons photo by David Hawgood, CC BY-SA 2.0.

In a field in the United Kingdom, oats are being sprayed with glyphosates. Many anti-GMO activists are unaware that Monsanto's glyphosate herbicide is sprayed on many crops that are not GMO, and that there are GMOs that are not sprayed with glyphosate.[1]

Glyphosate is not only sprayed on GMOs

Glyphosate is a powerful herbicide, and some genetically modified (GMO) crops are engineered to withstand it – when they would ordinarily die from it.[2]

This article isn’t a discussion of whether or not glyphosate is as safe as Monsanto and the FDA claim, but is meant to provide information for those who decide they want to avoid this substance, and how to do so.

Food manufacturers and biotech companies fight hard to prevent anyone from knowing when they are consuming glyphosate or genetically-modified foods,[3] but it is possible to quickly identify them on grocery store shelves, even if they are unlabeled, if you become educated about them. 

GMOs that glyphosate is sprayed on

The following crops are ones that, if not organic, have a high likely hood of being GMO and of having been sprayed with the herbicide glyphosate:[2]

- Canola (used to make canola oil)

- Cotton (used to make cottonseed oil, plus fabrics)

- Sugar beets (various forms of sugar)

- Alfalfa (often fed to animals)

- Corn (corn oil, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, and many other ingredients are made with GMO corn – in addition to the corn in the produce section – and it’s often fed to animals)

- Soy (soy sauce, soy milk, tofu, soybean oil, soy lecithin, and many other ingredients are made with GMO soy)

Many non-GMOs are sprayed with glyphosate

Glyphosate is sprayed on many other crops in a process called “desiccating,” which is done just after harvest to produce more seeds from the dying plant.[1]

The list of products that are sprayed like this, the first listed of which also has a GMO version, are:[1]

- Canola

- Wheat

- Barley

- Beans (many types)

- Peas

- Peanuts

- Sugar cane

- Oats

- Flax

- Lentils

How to avoid glyphosate with certainty

If a product says “Non-GMO certified” or something similar, it could still have non-GMOs in the second list that have been doused with glyphosate herbicide.[4]

If a product says “Organic” however, it is not supposed to have been sprayed with glyphosate.  It is illegal for a product to be labeled organic if it has ingredients on which glyphosate were used.[4]

Therefore your best bet is to either eat foods not found in the lists above, to eat them only if they are organic, or to eat only non-GMO versions (will have to say on the label, although sometimes manufacturers have been caught lying) of:

- Cottonseed oil (still not recommended, because it’s unhealthy)[6]

- Sugar beets (although the word “sugar” on a package could be from either sugar beets or sugar cane, and it usually doesn’t specify)

- Alfalfa (if you feel inclined to eat it)

- Corn

Any others on the list will likely be sprayed with glyphosate even if they say “Non-GMO,” unless they are certified organic.

Note that glyphosate is also sprayed on cotton from which clothes, bed sheets, etc are made. To avoid cotton upon which glyphosate has been sprayed, it would need to state that it has been made with organic cotton.[5]