Thursday, August 14, 2014

Non-GMO vs Organic... cutting through the confusion


Labels can be confusing. One thing that really seems to confuse people is the difference between non-GMO and organic labeling, so I thought it would be helpful if I explained it to you.

When a product has the Non-GMO Project Verified label, that means the product contains no genetically modified organisms. There are strict guidelines that have to be met before a product receives this certification. And I imagine nothing makes Monsanto angrier than to see this label appearing on more and more foods. But it makes us happy, right? 

Now the question is... if it's labeled GMO-free, does that mean it's organic? And the answer is no. 

Here's an example: I called a local farm recently and asked if their corn was non-GMO. The farmer confirmed that it was. He said, "We don't use no GMOs here." Of course, I won't comment on his grammar as that's beside the point. I reworded the question, just to make sure: "So none of your corn is from Monsanto's seeds. It's not genetically modified, right?" "That's right. You won't find none of that here." 

Okay, time for the next question: "Is it organic?"

"It's good corn."

"I'm sure it is," I affirmed. "But do you use any pesticides?"

"Yeah. We have to... 'cause of the worms, you know. But we use [he pronounced two pesticides I wasn't familiar with and can't remember the names of] and they're the safest ones."

I thanked him and hung up. 

In order to be organic, there cannot be any toxic pesticides used AND the produce must be free of any genetic engineering. 

So, the bottom line is... if you're concerned about pesticides and GMOs, stick to organic, which may or may not have the Non-GMO Project Verified label.

If you're mostly concerned with GMOs, look for labeling that indicates there are none (whether it simply includes the words "No GMOs" or has the actual Non-GMO Project Verified label.

And don't forget, when it comes to the PLU number on fresh produce, it's important to look at the first digit. If it's a 4, that means it's conventional. An 8 means it's genetically modified. And a 9 means it's organic. 

Keep an 8 
off your plate, 
bite into a 9 
which is perfectly fine. 



Just remember:

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