How to avoid GMO foods in Australia


It’s estimated that up to 70 percent of processed foods in Australia contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). But here’s the rub – very rarely are these ingredients labelled. Our extraordinarily lax labelling laws mean that you are unlikely to see the words “contains GMOs” on any product that hasn’t come from overseas.

So how can you avoid GMO foods in Australia?

First, learn where they’re most likely to lurk. Australia grows genetically modified canola and cotton, both of which are largely used as oils. The vast majority of GM ingredients in our food come from the US, where almost all of the soy and corn crops are now grown from genetically modified seed.

Both soy and corn are used to make a wide variety of food additives and can be found in everything from sauces to spreads, cakes to cookies, and chocolate to breakfast cereal.

Here’s what to look out for:

  • Canola oil: often described as “vegetable oil”.
  • Corn products: glucose, glucose syrup, fructose, maltodextrin and thickener/modified starches (1410, 1412).
  • Soy products: soy lecithin (additive/emulsifier 322), soy oil, soy protein, vegetable protein.
  • Cottonseed oil: Often labelled as “vegetable oil”, used for deep-frying and popular with takeaway food shops and restaurants.

To avoid GMO foods, take the following steps:

  1. Go through your pantry and read the ingredients carefully, identify anything that looks suss and never buy it again (don’t just throw it away, though!)
  2. Commit to eating more fresh foods and fewer processed foods.
  3. Buy organic where possible, as GMOs are banned under the organic system
  4. Make your own biscuits, cakes, dips, sauces etc with ingredients you trust
  5. Question your meat producers – unless labelled organic, animals may have been raised on feed with GMOs
  6. Avoid canola or “vegetable oil” unless marked “GMO-free”
  7. Sign up with MADGE – Mothers Are Demystifying Genetic Engineering – for news, information and meet-ups where you can get together and petition the supermarkets to label GMOs

If you’d like to know more about why you should avoid GMO foods in Australia, read my article for Wellbeing magazine here.


  1. Kris Piper says

    I find it really rewarding that more people are becoming aware of how destructive our eating habits are, I make natural, no canola no palm oil no chemical products for skin and hair and even our pooch. We have removed every toxin from our shopping basket and replaced with a natural alternative. It does take a commitment but not all that difficult to do, my stuff not packaged very prettily but it’s good quality and natural. Keep reading those ingredients Be safe and well all.

    • Lissy says

      While looking to cut out GMOs you should also be heading toward a wholesome plant based diet for both you and your children. If you really care about your health and the environment, begin your efforts to become Vegan. The meat, egg and dairy industry is neither healthy, sustainable or ethical regardless of what your misconceptions are.
      Seek more info by watching: Cowspiracy, Earthlings & Forks Over Knives.

  2. Chezron says

    I recently travelled in Australia for a month. It is nearly impossible to stay away from GMO in Oz as just about everything has “vegetable oil” in it. I could not cook my own food on this trip, so I had no control over this. I went to the grocery store and EVERYTHING that is pre-prepared has vegetable oil in it. There was hardly any organic produce or other food. I did find one organic yogurt from Paris Creek that I lived on while I was there. Chips, crackers, chocolate, salad dressings, even canned seafood and tuna has vegetable oil in it.

    • (dt)em says

      You make a good point Sharon, with our lax labelling laws there’s no way to know whether packaged foods contain GM ingredients. The only thing you can do is avoid them is stick to wholefoods, which is pretty difficult when you’re travelling.

    • GmNO says

      You’re only concerned about the vegetable oil? What about the corn starch, fructose, corn syrup and maize thickner? Did you read any of those on the labels you lived on?

  3. Graham Wight says

    Hi Jo,
    Thank you for your helpful website. I feel that the people of the world have been deceived by GMO products.
    GM modification of products which kills off insects will more then likely cause us health issues.
    More disturbing is the surreptitious addittion of GM products into processed foods in Australia without warnings.The authorities have failed us.
    Graham Wight

  4. Andy J says

    When are going to start getting the Whole Foods chain stores in Australia.
    We’re desperate for them.
    I also think having them would get the conversation going to the public of reason why While Foods is different from other Food chains, which in itself could really educate the public.

    So many people have no clue that round up has been sprayed on majority of the foods they eat.

  5. Kathy says

    Hello . .I just got finished watching a good movie here in Australia …The movie was interesting called ” consumed ” 2015 …about GMO. .made me wonder what am I really eating … So much to it . so I came across this site . Thank u :)


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