Here at the Project, we have received an influx of queries about modified corn starch over the past few weeks. Let’s talk about modified corn starch!

The “modified” in modified corn starch (and other types of modified starches) does not stand for genetically modified. In this context, “modified” simply means that the corn starch has been changed or altered in some way to make it more useful in food production. This could mean:

  • Roasting the starch
  • Treating the starch with an acid
  • Using an electrical charge on the starch
  • Treating the starch with sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide

These types of modifications are usually made to improve the consistency of processed foods. It is often the reason you can stir powdered cheese into your macaroni with ease and the secret to making your instant pudding thicken instantly.

Thus, “modified” does not necessarily mean “genetically modified organism,” which is a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified using recombinant DNA methods (also called gene splicing), gene modification or transgenic technology. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.

You can be sure products bearing the Non-GMO Project verification mark are in compliance with our rigorous Standard, which includes testing of high-risk products such as corn. We have several Non-GMO Project Verified modified starches, which you can find here.




What about testing modified cornstarch and other preservatives derived from corn for gmo’s?

Rasheed Ali

If the corn is GMO how could the corn starch be non GMO??? most corn grown in the US and CANADA are GMO ask Monsanto

Alli Willis

Hi Rasheed,

You’re right; nearly all corn grown in the U.S. and Canada is genetically modified. That’s why it’s so important to look for the Non-GMO Project butterfly when buying things made with corn!

If the corn is GMO, any product that comes from that corn would be GMO.
The point of the information above is that if the corn is non-GMO, then “modified corn starch” coming from that corn would be non-GMO. The word “modified” in this specific product does not necessarily mean “genetically modified”. Does that make sense?


Hi Alli, What about these “biodegradable corn starch peanuts”? I assume they are made from GMOs and all these organic companies are using them because they break down into nothing, it got me wondering what else aren’t they telling us about their production?

Alli Willis

Hi Charles,

That is an excellent question. When you see a high-risk crop such as corn in a product and it’s not Non-GMO Project Verified, it’s best to assume it’s derived from a GMO. This is especially true of non-food items like packaging and packing peanuts. It is a pretty safe bet that those products are made with GMOs in many or most cases. However, I learned that some of these biodegradable peanuts are made with sorghum (not a GMO risk), wheat (not a GMO-risk, but also a potential problem for people who are very sensitive to gluten) or potato starch (there’s only one type of GMO potato and they’re almost certainly not making peanuts with it).

I went digging through our records, and I do not believe there are any Non-GMO Project Verified packing peanuts at this time. It wouldn’t hurt to write to some of the companies that use these biodegradable products and ask them to choose something other than corn! It would be awesome to see some Non-GMO Project Verified packing peanuts in the future.



Like the mushrooms after a good rain, it seems that almost suddenly so many many NON GMO products populate the shelves. WHAT proof there is besides the little NonGMO seal that all those have indeed been verified and indeed they are all exclusively nonGMO as their label states? HOW on earth are all those companies etc claiming nonGMO status be able to GROW as many of those foods , on WHAT fields to be free of Monsanto tampering/contamination etcetc

Alli Willis

Hi Laura,

One reason that it seems like there are so many more non-GMO products around now is that it’s getting a little easier for food producers to find non-GMO ingredients. If you had tried to find something like non-GMO corn starch ten years ago, it would have been hard. But since consumers demanded non-GMO food, brands in turn demanded non-GMO ingredients from their suppliers, who turn around and only buy non-GMO corn from farmers, so that non-GMO corn starch is easier to find.

As far as proof—I think you might be interested in the Non-GMO Project Standard. It explains how much work and proof it takes to be allowed to use the Non-GMO Project Verified seal. You might start with sections 1 and 6 if you don’t feel like reading all of it.

As far as dealing with contamination pressure, the Standard has provisions for that too. That’s part of where GMO testing in a laboratory comes in. We also have rules you might not think of, such as bee hives that make non-GMO honey have to be at least four miles from any GMOs being grown to make sure the bees don’t bring home GMO pollen.

Dave F.

Somewhere, sometime, I was led to believe that “modified” anything on a list of ingredients generally meant that monosodium glutamate was indicated…
What can you tell me, if anything, about that?


We all know MSG is a taste enhancer just as sodium chloride. The amount of harmful sodium in MSG is much smaller. Therefore I always prefer MSG over table salt as taste intensifier. It helps keep my blood pressure in healthy levels.


MSG is found naturally in cheese, tomatoes, corn, green peas, chicken, scallops, and seaweed among others. Which is excatly where it is extracted from… fermented seaweed or corn. It is not toxic, unless you think tomatoes and cheese are toxic as well.

Alison Meadows

Is MAPS40 (Modified Maize Starch) classed as an artificial additive?

Esteban Gomez

Monsanto will not answer,they don’t care about anyone or their voice, all they care about is the more money they make.


Interestingly, “changed or altered in some way to make it more useful in food production” is how biotech is used in agriculture. Nobody yet has shown any harm from biotech in ag.

Kris Herder

I have seen modified corn starch in items that are said to be ‘sugar free’. As a diabetic, is this right? Can it be added as a sugar free ingredient? I excitedly found a BBQ sauce I love that is ‘sugar free’ but now I see this in the list of ingredients and am wondering.

Lindsey Rieck

Hi Kris.

The Non-GMO Project is a single-issue certification and our work focuses more on consumer choice and the right to know rather than specific health issues. As we are not medical professionals, we are not able to provide a consultation about this matter. I encourage you to reach out to a medical professional or dietician, who would be able to better assist you.


WHY is the food industry messing with our food supply?? Who wants to consume food that has been GENETICALLY MOTIFIED??? Are they (Monsanto) eating it?????

Stephen Rawstron

Is there monosodium glutamate in Modified maize starch? I’ve now got fibromyalgia and I’ve got bad pain because of one of the ingredients in soy free chow mein? Can’t see it being anything else.

Peter Schnack

This issue should not be about GMO or not, but whether the modified product contains Fructose, a sugar responsible for obesity and diabetes


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