The Environmental Working Group, the organization that brings us the Dirty Dozen Produce list every year, released the 2014 Shopper’s Guide to Avoiding GE Foods today.

GE, or genetically engineered, foods are also referred to as GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Foods that contain them are labeled in 60 other countries around the world. There have been no long-term studies on the health effects of consuming GE foods, yet the USDA and the FDA consider them safe and don’t require foods that contain them to be labeled.

Consumers who want to avoid exposure to GE foods don’t have it easy here in the U.S., so EWG created a guide that explains the three easiest ways to avoid them in your diet, including buying organic foods. Not everyone can afford to buy all organic, though, so the guide goes further by discussing the four most common GE foods and ingredients so consumers can avoid them. By following the guide, consumers who can’t avoid GE foods completely can limit their exposure to them.

The biggest culprit is field corn and corn-derived ingredients, because 90 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified. A lot of that goes to feed animals, but about 12 percent is used for corn flour, high fructose corn syrup, cornstarch, masa, corn meal and corn oil. These ingredients are so prevalent in processed foods that the EWG advises that if you see them on an ingredient list, you should assume they come from GE corn.

The guide also has a “watch list,” the top foods that might be GE. On the top of the list? Papaya. Who knew? I don’t usually eat papaya, so maybe that’s why I’m surprised by its prominent position.

Check out the Shopper’s Guide to Avoiding GE Foods on the EWG website and make note of the foods you should be avoiding if you want to eliminate or limit GE foods in your diet.

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Before you buy that papaya, get the Shopper's Guide to Avoiding GE Foods
The Environmental Working Group put together the guide to help shoppers decide which foods are most important to buy certified organic or GE-free.