Understanding The Difference Between Organic & Non-GMO Labeling
In today’s America, we’re in the golden age of clean and healthy food availability. However, despite all the accessible resources, many consumers still have difficulty determining the “right” food to purchase. It’s partly due to the overwhelming number of options available at the store. From gluten-free and kosher to low-carb and low-cal, the information overload can make matters all the more confusing.
The two most commonly known labels to most shoppers are organic and non-GMO labels. However, the two can be confusing to even the most health-knowledgable consumer. Both seals tend to get grouped together despite having different meanings and regulations.
It can be very easy to use both words interchangeably, but it is incorrect. Non-GMO and organic labels have important differences that this article will help break down.
Defining Organic Foods
Even the most knowledgable experts have had difficulty deciding on a solid classification for organic and non-GMO foods. Due to many debates, the USDA has intervened and has helped settle on a nationwide standard.
The largest difference between organic and non-GMO foods is how they are treated during the production process. For instance, synthetic chemicals such as fertilizers and herbicides, cannot come in contact with any raw ingredients. Also, growth hormones and antibiotics must never be utilized on animals used for meat production.
Furthermore, organic foods are not allowed to contain any type of GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Non-GMO is a criteria used to classify organic foods, bt the word itself has a separate definition.
If you are unsure if a food is organic or not, search for the special “USDA Organic” label on a food to see if it has been certified by the appropriate experts.
Defining Non-GMO Foods
As mentioned earlier, non-GMO is not substitutable with the term organic. Non-GMO is a criteria utilized to classify organic products, but it organic regulations are not used to classify non-GMO foods.
The term GMO typically refers to animals and plants that have had some type of genetic modiciation that is not natural and is created in non-traditional methods. Although crossbeeding is a result of some type of modification, it is not considered to be a part of the GMO category. Like organic products, the question arises as to how can consumers identify what products have used GMOs.
Fortunately, the Non-GMO Project helps shoppers identify foods that are not genetically-modifed organisms. They verify these qualifying products through third-party inspections that involve consistent audits, thorough on-site assessment, residue testing, and organic system plan evaluations. These rigorous tests help the Non-GMO Project verify whether a product is truly non-GMO or not. Moreover, they require non-GMO food to never come in contact with any other GMO profucts such as animal feed.
To find foods that are considered non-GMO, look for the “Non-GMO Project Verified” seal the next time you go grocery shopping.
We hope this information helps you make better food choices for your household when you go to the grocery store next time. As a consumer, once you better understand the food industry’s confusing language then you take out all the guesswork. Always refer to Non-GMO Project and USDA regulations to stay updated and informed. In addition, feel free to look over to the accompamnying graphic for more information on the two labels.