July 22nd, 2014

Non-GMO is Not the Same as Organic

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Groovy Green Livin Non-GMO is not the same as organic

Non-GMO verified is NOT the same as organic.

Something to keep in mind the next time you head to the supermarket.

Over the past few years GMO labeling has come a long way …..but we have a long way to go.

Non-GMO Project Verified labels are popping up on more and more products on the shelves in our markets.  I use this label more and more to find products that don’t contain GMOs and to support companies that label their products. Groovy Green Livin Non-GMO-Project-verified

Groovy Green Livin Non-GMO Verified

Sometimes a Non-GMO Project Verified label will appear along with other labels and other times it will stand alone.

Labeling, while so important, can also be very confusing. It’s time to clear up any confusion!

What is a Non-GMO Project Verified Label?

I  generally find the Non-GMO Project Verified label at the bottom of a product. The label provides consumers with independent, third party assurance that the product contains no GMOs (products tested must contain less that .9percent GMOs, which allows for unintentional contamination). Yes, there could be unintentional contamination.

What is USDA Organic Certification?

In a nutshell, products with an organic certification are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones. 

USDA certified products cannot intentionally contain GMOs.  The USDA does not require testing for GMOs, so accidental contamination may occur. 

Bottom Line

So there you have it. A non-GMO label is only certifying that a product does not contain GMOs. An organic certification provides much more, including a certification that the product doesn’t contain GMOs. Both certifications leave a bit of wiggle room for unintentional GMO contamination. So yes, your food could contain GMOs even if there’s a non-GMO and/or organic certification.

Buy organic food whenever you can. A new study found substantially higher levels of antioxidants and lower levels of pesticides in organic fruits, vegetables and grains compared with conventionally grown produce. Look for the Non-GMO Verified label as another resource when shopping for cereals, snacks and other foods.

When you shop do you look for the Non-GMO Verified Label? 




44 Responses to “Non-GMO is Not the Same as Organic”

  1. Helpful! I think there is more work to be done to educate people that organic means non-GMO! So confusing, even with one of the best labels out there. Great info.
    Lindsay recently posted..Green your hot yoga practiceMy Profile

  2. Extremely informative, thanks for sharing. I wasn’t aware that Non- GMO products could still have trace contamination.

  3. There was an interesting article on forbes.com last year which stated “Some industry observers and several recent surveys point out that mainstream consumers still don’t grasp what the USDA Organic seal means or how it benefits them, and many view it with suspicion”

    So think we have a way to go on consumer education and standardisation of organic and non-gmo labelling – but a great start to the education process Lori

  4. Great post!! I try to look for Non_GMO project verified cereals since that is a one food item that usually has a high amount of GMO’s.
    Leigh from Green-4-u.com recently posted..7 Ways To Prevent Pesticide Exposure When You Are PregnantMy Profile

  5. When I can’t find organic I look for non-gmo but I prefer things that are 100% organic and try not to buy much packaged food.

    This is important info as it can be confusing!

  6. I look for both. With restricted diets and picky eaters, I have to purchase what I can! When I’ve made the diet stricter, the kids lost far too much weight and were hungry and cranky 🙁

  7. […] Non-GMO verified is NOT the same as organic. GMO labeling has come a long way, but we have a long way to go. What do non-GMO and organic labels mean?  […]

  8. Hungry and cranky kids are a challenge Gina! I look for both also. Shopping takes me so long these days.

  9. Thanks Lisa. I also prefer organic. I look for the non-GMO certification when I buy cereal for my son.

  10. Thanks Leigh! I do the same with cereal. We go through a lot of cereal over here!

  11. I agree- we have a long way to go. It’s all very confusing. I think as consumers we’re not sure where to look first. Some products have 5 or 6 labels.

  12. You’re welcome Jon. Yes, to make matters more confusing there can be contamination in both non-GMO and organic products. Crazy!

  13. I prefer organic but it’s nice to have the non-gmo option when I don’t feel like paying the price for organic or organic is not available.
    Betsy (Eco-novice) recently posted..Easy-peasy DIY Taco Seasoning RecipeMy Profile

  14. I agree Betsy- sometimes the non-GMO option is better than the alternative.

  15. I prefer to purchase from local farmers as much as possible and ask them about their practices, because there is an inherent transparency built in. Then, when I get any other food from the grocery, it is organic, at least 90% of the time.

  16. I agree- the farmer’s market is such a great way to purchase produce and meats. The ability to ask a farmer about their food is priceless.

  17. I did know there is a major difference. This may seem far fetched, but I hope our country realizes that GMOs are killing us. Hopefully they stop! I have been shopping my farmer’s market and using my garden produce.
    Amy Desrosiers recently posted..Cheesy Chicken, Bacon and Ranch Dressing Recipe #FoodDeservesDeliciousMy Profile

  18. It took me a long time to wrap my head around the two. I tried to buy all non gmo things but only recently did I make the organic switch. Thanks for clearing it up!

  19. It’s not far fetched at all Amy. We are all working hard to make sure that GMO labeling happens. Good for you -shopping at your farmer’s market is perfect! What are you growing in your garden?

  20. You’re so welcome Heather. Thanks for stopping by!

  21. I’m with you on this one and agree with the other commentors like Lisa, I try to buy non-GMO when it comes to food but if there isn’t organic then this is my next alternative. I sometimes wonder if my gluten issue is due to GMO food.

  22. Great information. Honestly, we don’t look for the labels all of the time. Having to have gluten and dairy free takes priority right now, but GMO foods are very scary.
    Krystyn @ Really, Are You Serious? recently posted..Happy birthday to daddy | Mommy and Me Monday | The 233rd edMy Profile

  23. Thank you for the reminder. Labels are so misleading.
    Caroline Murphy recently posted..Easy Motion Sickness RemediesMy Profile

  24. Not only are they misleading Caroline, but they’re so confusing! Sometimes I stand and stare at the label for a few minutes.

  25. Thanks Krystyn. It’s definitely important to prioritize. There are so many different things to take into consideration and we all have to find what works for our families.

  26. Interesting question Vicky. I often wonder how many different health issues are tied to GMOs.

  27. It is crazy what we don’t know about what we eat. I feel that no matter what someone is lying about something all the time.
    Drew Bennett recently posted..Interview with Dave Bautista at the #GuardiansOfTheGalaxyEventMy Profile

  28. Thank you for sharing! Feeding your family healthy and safe food should not be so confusing.

  29. Great reminder! Labels have come a long way in terms of identifying GMOs and other substances that consumers should know about, but yes, still so confusing. Heavy sigh.

  30. Helpful explanation, as always, Lori! Thank you!

  31. I know Pilar, so confusing. Let’s keep the discussion going to help take the confusion out of labeling.

  32. You’re so welcome Kimberly.

  33. I don’t know how many times I have to explain this to people. It blows their minds! lol
    Jeska recently posted..Working Out Like Your PupsMy Profile

  34. […] at the top shelf, let’s begin with popcorn – I love it! I buy organic (and therefore non-GMO) popcorn from the bulk section of my local grocery store or at Costco. I make my popcorn in the […]

  35. […] peanut-butter-loving boat click on the link to bring you to the full recipe. My only suggestion-use organic peanut butter without added sugar whenever you […]

  36. […] engineered) foods should be labeled. Unfortunately, there are a few who don’t agree that GMOs should be labeled and they’re giving the pro labeling community a tough […]

  37. […] certified products cannot intentionally contain GMOs.  The USDA does not require testing for GMOs, so accidental contamination may […]

  38. […] stage, including pregnancy. Users can also limit their searches to find only certified organic, GMO-free, or gluten-free […]

  39. Does this mean that organic products are not gmo?

  40. Hi Lar, organic products in general do not contain GMOs, unless there was some form of cross contamination. Hope that helps!

  41. Thanks so much

  42. […] be challenging to find (small print). Try to buy organic food when you can. Remember that a non-GMO label is only certifying that a product does not contain GMOs. An organic certification provides much more, including a certification that the product doesn’t […]

  43. […] are a quite a few organic multivitamins on the […]

  44. […] organic foods whenever you can. In a nutshell, products with an organic certification are grown without the use […]

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About Lori

Hi! I’m Lori, a recovering attorney, writer, and mom to three boys. Join me as I uncover and share the latest info on healthy living. Learn more.

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