The USDA National Organic Program regulations define GMO’s as substances produced through “a variety of methods used to genetically modify organisms or influence their growth and development by means that are not possible under natural conditions or processes, and are not considered compatible with organic production” (7 CFR 205.105 and 205.2).
The use of GMOs is prohibited in organic production. GMO’s cannot be used during the production and handling of certified organic products. The certification process verifies that no GMO’s are used. MOFGA Certification Services (MCS) inspects each certified operation at least once a year and verifies that no GMO-seeds are used, that procedures are in place that prevent GMO drift and that processors have practices in place to separate non organic products (that are potentially GMO) during post-harvest activities, processing, storage and shipping. MCS conducts periodic pesticide residue testing on at least 5% of our certified organic operations to determine if prevention practices are adequate to avoid contact with prohibited substances such as pesticides, antibiotics, and GMOs.
Non-GMO unfortunately does not mean GMO-free. Organic producers continue to be at risk from contamination with GMOs as non-organic food systems increase their use of GMOs.
Food labeled as just non-GMO is not regulated. If the product has a label such as the “Non- GMO Project”, it is only verified that the finished product does not contain GMOs. However, an Organic label, such as the “MOFGA Certified Organic” label, in addition to verifying that no GMO’s are used, also verifies that no synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are used, prohibits antibiotics and synthetic hormone use for animals, is regulated by Federal Law, protects wildlife, promotes biodiversity, and enhances soil fertility.
There are many resources about GMO’s and organic production. The USDA-NOP has published the following:
MOFGA Certified producers can access Organic is Non-GMO marketing materials here.