Are There GMOs Lurking in Your Yogurt?

chobani gmos

Unless you’re buying organic yogurt, the answer is probably yes.

Nearly 50% of the GMO corn and 70% of the GMO soybeans grown in the U.S. go to livestock and poultry feed. Cows are also often fed alfalfa, cottonseed and sugar beets that might also be genetically modified.

Even yogurt brands like Chobani and Fage, who claim to be “real” and “natural,” are made from the milk of cows who eat genetically modified feed.

Why is this bad?

While we don’t have proof that the GMOs eaten by animals are passed onto us via their milk, there’s also no science proving the opposite. It’s all a big unknown at this point. If you are concerned about the potential harm of GMOs and want to really know your food, it’s best to buy organic until we have a GMO-labeling system in place.

How can I avoid yogurt from GMO-fed cows?
  1. Buy organic. This is currently the ONLY way to avoid GMOs altogether.
  2. Ask your favorite yogurt brands to shift to non-GMO feed for their cows.
  3. Encourage the federal government to label GMO foods by signing the Just Label It petition.
  4. Ask your local grocery store to stock more organic options.
What brands of yogurt come from cows who eat GMOs?

Assume that all non-organic yogurt in the U.S. is from cows who have eaten genetically modified feed. Yes, even Chobani, Fage, Whole Foods 365 yogurt, Trader Joe’s yogurt and other brands that claim to be “all natural.” (Remember, the term “natural” means nothing legally. It’s just a marketing term that can often be misleading).

What brands of yogurt do NOT contain milk from cows fed GMOs?

By definition, organic yogurt cannot be from cows who eat GMO feed. Organic dairy cows graze on pasture for a minimum number of days per year, and when they’re not grazing they are fed 100% organic, non-GMO feed. This is all heavily regulated, so look for the USDA Organic seal.

Are there any organic GREEK yogurts available?

Yes. Stonyfield, Wallaby Greek and Straus Family Creamery Greek are the organic options in my area. If you know of other organic Greek yogurt options, please share in the comments below!

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Comments

  1. This is such a great post, Amelia! Love the info in here; thank you for sharing this! It’s so important for everyone to know what’s lurking in their food behind the advertising of fancy brands!

  2. GREAT write up and something I’d not thought about until recently. Thanks!

  3. GREAT write up…and something I’d not thought about until recently. Thanks!

  4. Trader Joe’s had repeatedly told me if it’s their brand it has NO GMO. Are you saying this is not true? Thanks.

    • Trader Joe’s guarantees that none of their products contain GMO ingredients. However, in the meat and dairy department, unless a product is organic you can assume the animal ate GMO feed for most of it’s life. So, while their yogurt doesn’t have GMO ingredients ADDED to it, it IS made with milk from cows who ate GMO feed, unless you buy organic. If you want to avoid GMOs altogether, buy organic!

      • Dale W Covert says:

        Amelia, this is a discussion that really gets under my skin. GMO is a n umbrella term describing any organism not in its original, wild state genetically. By definition every domesticated plant and animal is GMO. Every cow, horse, mule, chicken, dog, goldfish, grass, cereal grain, fruit or nut tree is GMO, and yes even the ones used in organic production. What you folks are against is GE- genetic engineered, a specific term used for organisms produced by non natural means such as gene splicing, cloning or IVF. Do you have the same outrage against grafted fruit trees, Dolly the sheep, or childless couples going to a fertility Dr? GMO plants when fed to animals are broken down in the digestive system, what is not broken down is excreted. This is unlike pesticides and chemicals that are not digested but are stored in fat tissue or passed in bodily fluids. This is why cows treated with antibiotics have a withholding period before the milk( or meat) is safe to ship.(It is illegal to ship ANY milk or meat that has ANY residue) Therefore the emotional nonsense of conventional milk being full of antibiotics is just not true. GMO feed is not the issue. What is the issue is market share for corrupt processing businesses like Dean’s( both conventional and Horizon), DFA, Organic Valley, Dannon, Chobani, and Stoneyfield, among others. They will use any means including outright lies to gain a 1/2 %. The only ones hurt by the continued lies are Farmers, Organic, Conventional, backyard, abandoned city lot, or family Farmers. Just because the label says Organic doesn’t mean a thing if the store, the wholesaler, or the producer of the product is corrupt. It is human nature to be greedy and in this day in age anything to make a buck seems to be the mantra. Consumers and even bloggers like yourself seem to place an awful lot of trust in the system. A system without a much oversite. You also paint with a very broad brush when it comes to the organic vs conventional. Not all organic is truly organic and not all conventional is non organic. On my farm we utilize many organic practices we just choose not to be certified because of the costs involved with transitioning and the questionable returns once certified. Organic production is not all rainbows and unicorns like some would have you believe.

        • Hi Dale. I hear you and appreciate you sharing your thoughts. I don’t follow what you mean by “everything is a GMO,” and I don’t agree that just because a company is big means it will lie or do “anything” to make a profit. But I do agree with some of your points, including that this issue is not black or white. Rather, it’s a complex issue that’s hard to sum up in a blog post or comment.

          I am not a farmer, and I know that farmers know a LOT that I don’t know. But, I do read a lot of research, and know a fair amount about U.S. food policy, and I believe that we are all being lied to by big chemical companies like Monsanto and their lobbyists controlling Congress. The winners in the pesticides vs. organic and GMO vs. non-GMO battles are the chemical companies. Not the farmers. Not the consumers. Not the earth. The whole system needs an overhaul. I hope we will get there someday.

          I know that many farmers like yourself follow many “organic” practices without being certified organic, which is why I think that first and foremost, consumers should get to know farmers who produce their food. The milk from a mostly pasture-raised cow on a large northern NY dairy farm is different than the milk from a mostly grain-fed cow on a large farm, even if the grain is organic. I hope that consumers begin to take more time to get to know where their food comes from, so they don’t have to rely solely on labels, organic or otherwise.

          • Dale W Covert says:

            Everything including humans are GMO. We are not the same beings that stood up and walked out of Africa. Genetic modification occurs from mutation, survival of the fittest, or selective breeding for desired traits. Every domesticated plant or animal is a GMO- by scientific definition. Also the term Organic describes carbon based life form not the purely marketing term it is used as today. I fully agree about our corporate-run gov’t lieing to us all to the point that none of us know the real truth. From my perspective I don’t see how it would be possible to ban gmo (or ge), because of the way the food system is set up in this country. First farmers( organic or conventional) would actually have to be paid a fair return on their efforts. Second the economic forces that pushed farms to expand through the 70’s and 80’s would have to be reversed, and third farmers would have to be respected as THE most important people in the country, afterall we feed everyone. Instead I see continued scorn, disrespect, and gov’t intervention and manipulation of markets. As you point out Monsanto,along with Cargill, ADM, Kraft, Dean’s etc. are the problems they run USDA and to some level FDA and EPA. Basically they get what they want. Following that lead O-V, Dannon, Dean’s, are and will use whatever tactics they can to bring down Chobani, the new kid on the block . Lawsuits, negative campaigns,copycat products that don’t meet product standards of identity. confusing consumers with several layers of lies or misinformation which is easy in today’s sound-bite world. The corruption runs deep on all sides.

          • I agree with your 3 points, Dale. 1) farmers need to be paid fairly for their work. The current system does not allow for this. It’s outrageous that farmers struggle to earn a living even when they hold jobs outside of farming. 2) that the outdated polices from the late 60’s-80’s need to be reversed. They were formed when our nation had very different problems, and are not farmer-friendly. They are profit-friendly for big companies with powerful lobbyists. 3) Farmers deserve more respect from consumers, policymakers and food companies. I think the lack of these 3 things can partly be attributed to a huge disconnect between food production and modern urban life. I hope the food movement continues to connect consumers to their food.

  5. In NY, almost a thousand family dairy farms supply Chobani. From the data I saw, their average farm milk supplier has 89 cows. In NY, it is nearly impossible for these farms to obtain cow grain for their cows that is guaranteed to be GMO free. The only alternative would be to buy organic grain at roughly twice the cost. 98% of NY farms are not certified organic.

    We are relatively small, milking 60 cows. If we were to switch away from the local feed mill to try to buy only organic grain, our grain bill would go from $35,000 to $70,000 according to one feed salesman I called about this. This would bankrupt most of the farms I know. In NY, we have lost thousands and thousands of dairy farms in recent years. Some 3,000,000 acres of former dairy farms, hayfields and grazing lands stand abandoned or barely used. (See Cornell report called “Green Grass, Green Jobs.” )

    I think it is extremely unfair to call the milk from our farms inferior and to judge us based upon one parameter of what our farms are all about. As we continue to lose farms, and as you all devalue us and label us, rest assured that developers and fracking companies are waiting eagerly as more farms fail. NY’s greatest natural resource is rainfed grasslands close to NYC, a city of great food insecurity. NYC has a 3 day food supply coming from longer and longer food supply chains.

    Bankrupting thousands of good farms based upon this campaign is just plain wrong. I do not doubt that this is a marketing campaign that will benefit the sponsors of Green America. I see that Organic Valley is one of them and OV is the supplier of milk for Stonyfield. Stonyfield coincidentally had a full media campaign and artwork ready to roll out at the same time as the Green America campaign. Dannon owns Stonyfield and also produces many other brands of yogurt that are made with milk from the family farms of the Northeast. Ask the other yogurt brands what farms they make milk out of as well. Strange how only Chobani was targeted when other companies owned by Dannon have the same milk suppliers.

    Chobani is a natural, traditionally made yogurt made by the straining process and not by adding fillers, and get thickeners. This is why most of the farmers buy Chobani or Fage, because they are traditionally made without fillers. Upstate NY has seen growing rural poverty and Chobani has provided 1200 jobs to people.

    If you want to push for more GMO-free grain for cows, there are far better ways to do it than to engage in smearing and breaking the hearts of good people who have devoted their lives to the land.

    • I would love to hear the better ways of promoting non-GMO grain for cows. This is the type of action I’d like to take, and encourage my readers to take. Right now, I don’t know how to do this beyond choosing organic. I certainly never choose organic because I like to hurt or diminish the work of conventional farmers. I know better than to think the farmers are the problem, and I believe farmers – whether organic or conventional – deserve a better living for their work. Feel free to give me some alternative ideas for how to do push for non-GMO feed for cows and I’ll do it. I’ve asked before but am still waiting for answers.

  6. I am sure you will delete this comment, as you have been others made by conventional farmers. However, it might behoove you to take note of the outraged reaction to Panera’s recent ad campaign denouncing the use of antibiotics in chicken production. THOUSANDS of farmers felt that they had been insulted and called lazy by the company and reacted with texts and on Facebook. There was no science to back up their claims either…..
    It is a shame that one segment of farming feels compelled to advance their product by denigrating that of others. Even you admit that there is no science behind your claims. Panera is rapidly backing away from the EZ chicken campaign….I hope your company will also embrace fairness, honesty and SOUND SCIENCE rather than preying on the fears and emotions of underinformed consumers.

    • I don’t delete comments unless they are inappropriate or mean-spirited, and haven’t deleted any here. I appreciate the varying views on this issue and do hear you & others’ perspective. I really believe in supporting American farmers and know that as a city resident/non-farmer, I don’t know everything. My goal in encouraging consumers to choose organic products is not to marginalize or hurt conventional farmers, but rather to help change a system that right now, doesn’t support most farmers, human health or the environment. I know there are always exceptions to the rules/generalizations about both conventional and organic, but to me, the science supporting organic methods is actually quite clear.

  7. georgia kovack says:

    OMG,don’t eat Chiobani yogurt is yakkkk. It leaves an yaky after taste,sick,they try to copy the real greek yogurt but they don’t. i am Greek from Athens and i know what greek yogurt is,thank you!

  8. Thank you for this blog. And I appreciate the farmers taking the time to write, but I hope they are taking the same message to congress.
    I recently was at my local farmers’ market and asked a gentleman selling eggs if they were organic. He explained that they were ‘except the feed,’ because a bag of feed grown without GMOs was so expensive that he would have to charge double the price for the eggs (already $8 each).
    Gov’t subsidies for GMO grown food makes it impossible for the farmers to compete with ‘organic.’ (At least that is how I understand it. Farmers…tell me if I’m wrong, please!)
    Concerned consumers who research and share information know that the farmers are screwed. But many of us are not willing to take a chance on GMOs. So we should not be ‘blamed’ for spreading the word about the potential dangers in our current food system—run by the gov’t! And we can’t base our rationale to eat only organic based on sound research—because the gov’t WON’T FUND DECENT RESEARCH. So we consumers have to stick up for ourselves and spread the word. Farmers—why don’t you ask us to join hands and fight congress with you? OR…if you believe the GMO-infected animal products you sell are good for us—link us to some valid research that proves your side. K?

  9. Well according to this website, Fage scores a B— a B is well above passing, and I find their yogurt to be delicious.

    http://gmoinside.org/gmo-yogurt-how-does-your-favorite-brand-stack-up-2/

  10. Patricia D says:

    Thanks! So to be clear – if yogurt is organic then it is definitely non-GMO even if that is not stated on the label?

  11. Siggi’s is non-GMO and made in upstate, NY according to their website – http://siggisdairy.com/faq/

    Plus it’s delicious.

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  1. […] GMOs in it!  So, please, stop eating Fage today!  The following article by Amelia Winslow from Eating Made Easy outlines yogurts to avoid and organic yogurts still clear for consumption (phew!  Straus is still […]