Here's an interesting update to this topic of GMO foods.
I've recently tried Fireworks brand popcorn because of the amazon reviews and because it's GMO free. But it doesn't state if it's organic, so they probably use standard pesticides on this corn just like regular, GMO popcorn. This is probably why there is no "9" in the PLU code. No problem there, just stating what I've found.
My question arose when looking at Orville Redenbacher White popcorn. Was it non GMO? Probably not one would think, as it's produced by Conagra. Yet the container of popcorn DOES NOT have an "8" in the PLU code, so it's possible that the product is GMO free, one would think.
So I emailed Conagra a few weeks ago and asked them whether their product was GMO or not.
Here is the reply (bold for emphasis):
So from this reply it seems safe to conclude that this popcorn probably is GMO even though this is not specified in the PLU code.
Thank you for your email concerning our Orville Redenbacher's White Kernels.
If you prefer to purchase products that do not contain biotech ingredients, we can recommend organic products. Per the USDA's certification requirements for organic products, organic ingredients cannot be derived from biotech (genetically modified) seeds.
Some of our products contain ingredients that were produced from crops produced using biotechnology. All of these ingredients are approved by the USDA and the FDA, and we stand by the safety and integrity of our ingredients.*
The products that most likely contain biotech ingredients would be those that contain corn and soybean. Biotechnology modified versions of these crops have been approved for use and are common in the food supply. Because they are fundamentally the same as crops developed through traditional breeding, they are difficult to segregate and trace. Even if they were traceable, our formulas and suppliers change from time to time, so we couldn't say definitively if biotech ingredients are included in a specific product. We stand by the safety and integrity of our ingredients.
Our labeling practices follow all government regulations. The FDA requires labeling when a food's nutritional content is significantly changed or if the food could cause an allergic reaction in some people. But when an approved biotech food is virtually the same as its traditional form and its nutritional content is not changed significantly, the FDA does not require special labeling. This is the case with all of our products.
Thanks again for your feedback. We're listening!
Consumer Affairs Representative
And they can get away with this because "when an approved biotech food is virtually the same as its traditional form and its nutritional content is not changed significantly, the FDA does not require special labeling."
Therefore, the PLU codes are not the be all to end all. It looks like only products that are SIGNIFICANTLY modified will have this designation of "8".