Buyer Beware: GMO Stevia Is Everywhere

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana), a perennial shrub native to South America, has a long history of use as a natural sweetener. Steviol glycosides, including rebaudiosides A, D and M are what provide the sweet taste, with Reb A being the sweetest
  • Despite hundreds of years of safe use of stevia, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has labeled stevia leaf and crude stevia extracts “unsafe food additives,” granting GRAS status to certain high-purity steviol glycosides only
  • Genetically engineered (GE) versions of stevia have also received the green light for widespread and unregulated use in food
  • Cargill’s EverSweet contains Reb D and Reb M made from GE yeast fermentation, yet is marketed as “nonartificial”
  • If you want a stevia-based sweetener that is actually made from the plant, opposed to GE yeast, you have to make sure it’s certified organic

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