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What is Organic and non-GMO?
It can be confusing to navigate through all the packaging claims, but two of the most important (and most difficult to understand) are organic and non-GMO claims.
In the most simple sense, organic foods are produced using only natural methods of farming, which do not incorporate synthetic inputs such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Organic labeling of food & beverage products is strictly monitored and enforced by the United States Department of Agriculture. Common organic certifications include:
- 100% Organic – all ingredients must be certified organic, and the product’s package may include the USDA organic seal and/or 100 percent organic claim
- 95% Organic - all ingredients must be certified organic, non-organic ingredients allowed per National List may be used up to a combined total of five percent of non-organic content (excluding salt and water), and the product’s package may include the USDA organic seal and/or 100 percent organic claim
- 70% Organic (or “Made With” Organic) - at least 70 percent of the product must contain certified organic ingredients (excluding salt and water), and any remaining agricultural products are not required to be organically produced but must be produced without excluded methods. The package may state “made with organic (up to three ingredients or ingredient categories)” but cannot include the USDA organic seal anywhere.
- Less than 70% Organic – the product cannot include the USDA organic seal anywhere.
According to the Non-GMO Project “GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE). This experimental technology merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.”
The controversial GMO debate involves the costs and benefits of food derived from GMOs, genetically modified crops used to produce food and other goods, and other uses of genetically modified organisms in food production. The debate involves farmers, consumers, biotechnology companies, governmental regulators, and scientists, and the key issues revolve around the risk of genetically modified food, labeling of such food, and the impact that these risks and labeling requirements could have on farmers, food companies and consumers.
The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices. Products that have been independently certified as non-GMO by the Non-GMO project will bear the verification seal on pack.