On November 7 2012, Californians had a chance to vote on a law that would require labeling of all Genetically Modified (“GMO”) ingredients found in the processed foods sold in their state. The proposition also included a ban on the use of the word “natural” when it’s used to describe foods that contain GMO ingredients (a common approach used by many processed food manufacturers).
Buying 100% Organic, certified Organic, and USDA Organic-labeled products is usually the easiest way to identify and avoid genetically modified ingredients.
The United States and Canadian governments do NOT allow companies to label products “100% / Certified Organic” if they contain genetically modified foods.
To put it in more detail:
100% Organic: Must contain 100 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt). This is the only label that certifies a completely organic product AND completely GMO-free ingredients.
Certified Organic / USDA Organic: At least 95 percent of content is organic by weight (excluding water and salt). The <5% remaining ingredients must consist of substances approved on the USDA’s National List. GMOs are NOT on this list, so USDA Organic products are also usually GMO-free. For verification, consult the following sources:
- The USDA’s National Organic Program overview page
- The USDA’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances
- The USDA’s Organic 101 blog
- A 2011 USDA policy memo in response to confusion over GMOs in organics
- The National Organic Standards Board Policy and Procedures Manual
Made with Organic: Up to 70% of the ingredients are organic. These products can NOT carry a “USDA organic” label, however their “remaining non-organic ingredients are produced without prohibited practices, including genetic engineering.”
But lately, even organic products are at risk….