The use of GMOs is prohibited in organic production, and organic production supports a food system that values environmental stewardship, public health, animal welfare, transparent labels, and traceability of products without the use of toxic fertilizers or pesticides.
What are GMOs?
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are created through the process of genetic engineering: a technology that takes DNA from one organism and moves it into another, creating new varieties of plants and animals that wouldn’t be found in nature. Genetic engineering is prohibited in organic food and farming because of concerns about their environmental and health repercussions. Learn more about genetic engineering.
Organic is Non-GMO
Organic is non-GMO because the use of GMOs is prohibited in organic production. For example, organic farmers cannot plant GMO seeds, organic livestock cannot eat GMO feed, and organic food manufacturers cannot use GMO ingredients.
Organic producers are also required by law to protect their crops and products from unintentional contact with GMOs. For example, organic farmers may need procedures to prevent GMO drift from adjacent farms. Processors must separate organic ingredients from non-organic ingredients during receiving, processing, storage, and shipping. USDA-accredited certifying agents such as CCOF verify that certified organic producers do not use GMOs and have effective prevention strategies. CCOF annually inspects every operation to verify that the certified operator is adequately preventing contact with GMOs. CCOF also periodically tests for GMOs, which helps verify that each level of the supply chain has adequate prevention strategies in place. If GMOs are suspected or detected, CCOF is required by law to conduct an investigation to determine if a violation of organic farming or processing standards occurred.
Non-GMO does not mean GMO-free because organic producers continue to be at risk from inadvertent contamination as non-organic food systems increase their use of GMOs. Buying organic helps stop the spread of GMOs because it supports the farmers and companies that not only do not use GMOs, but who also proactively protect their certified products.
The CCOF "Non-GMO & More" seal underscores the prohibition of the use of GMOs in organic and recognizes the many contributions of organic to a healthier world.
Organic is Non-GMO & More
In addition to not using GMOs, organic producers promote and enhance biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil fertility, and restore, maintain, and enhance ecological harmony. The legacy of organic will be the catalyzation of healthy, sustainable, and humane production systems. Learn more about the benefits of organic and about CCOF's mission & principles.
There’s a wealth of resources about these topics from CCOF, the USDA National Organic Program, and CCOF’s strategic partner, the Organic Trade Association.
- OTA Non-GMO Task Force
- CCOF's GMO Policy Position
- CCOF’s FAQs for using the "Non-GMO & More" seal
- OTA Position on the Labeling of USDA NOP Certified Products and “Non-GMO” Claims
- Memo to NOSB, Improved Guidance on Preventing GMO Presence in Organic Products
- Fact Sheet: Non-GMO Requirements Under the National Organic Program
- USDA's blog - "Organic 101: Can GMOs Be Used in Organic Products?"
- "Organic is THE CHOICE to avoid GMOs" Quick Tips