does organic mean GMO-free?

Ahoy matey!

Today’s post sheds light on the relationship between organic and non-GMO food.

It can get crazy out there in the world of food politics & legislation, some of it is downright sleazy.

Apparently “despite rigid organic certification procedures, organic certification is about the *process* of growing food, not about the actual resulting food. There is no testing process for organic ingredients, so there is a chance that GMO contamination could occur.” (

I’m not gonna start tearing apart the current rules and loopholes or we’d be here all week and you’d feel disgruntled, so instead I’ve broken it down into the 3 main categories that should be far easier to remember.

And hey, let’s be positive that at least there are guidelines available for those concerned about what’s in their food.


Can you diggit?

Check out this site if you care for a more in-depth breakdown of what’s happening behind-the-scenes.

To break it down:

  1. 100% certified organic means GMO-free
  2. Certified organic means 95% of ingredients (by weight, excluding water and salt) are organic and non-GMO, but 5% can come from an approved list of ingredients that are generally non-GMO, but loopholes allow some genetically modified foods onto this list (apparently ones that aren’t readily available in an organic, non-GMO form… hmmmm)
  3. Made with organic ingredients means up to 70% of ingredients are organic and GMO-free

At the end of the day buy local if at all possible; don’t get too caught up in (expensive) labelling (that often travels thousands of kilometers) if you can speak with the grower/producer of your food (via farmers markets, etc). Read packages closely, you may find pleasant (or not so pleasant) surprises!

Do you take the extra time needed to read the fine print or look for labels? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

11 thoughts on “does organic mean GMO-free?

  1. As an employee of an organic grain trading company I can say this is absolutely true. However, it is also the case for pesticides and herbicides. While I can really only speak to the organic production side of things as opposed to the manufacture of organic foods or products, Organic certification only certifies that you abide by the process of organic farming and that you aren’t actively using chemicals yourself. The reason being there are no standards for what your neighbour is doing other than a small buffer zone (seriously insignificant) that the organic farmer has to create, further reducing the total yield they can produce. If your neighbour is spraying, your crop has pesticides on it. There’s really no two ways about it. As well, the ground water contains so many chemicals now that it is bound to be in your products, organic or not. Saskatchewan soil is particularly high in cadmium which finds its way into most grain and tests high by European standards.

    On the gmo side of things testing is difficult mostly because it is costly. You can’t just say I want to test for gmo, you have to know what specific gene you want to test for. We genetically test all flax samples destined for Europe because there is a prohibited genetically modified strain of flax that was developed in Canada, and despite never being sold for seed anywhere (even conventionally) it still has found it’s way into seed that is grown organically.

    Hopefully that was at least mildly interesting/informative. I have a copy of the Canadian Organic Standards as well as the list of permitted substances if that is something you’re interested in looking at.

    I would be interested to know what standard Australia (I think that’s where you are anyway) certifies to or if they have their own, if you have that information. I believe it is to the US NOP standard but I’m not sure.

    • Hey Derek, great hearing from you!
      Thanks so much for taking the time to respond, I found your comments very interesting indeed.

      I’ve attached this link as per your request to Australia’s Organic Standards

      Please let me know if you find any correlations or differences between Canada’s standards during your review.

      I feel terrible for the organic farmers that cannot avoid cross-contamination due to airborne particles from neighbouring pesticide-laden crops. It’s not right. I hadn’t even thought about chemicals in the ground water these days, but it makes sense that it has an impact.

      Don’t even get me started on GMOs. It freaks me right out how many foods are genetically modified; it’s appalling they don’t need to be labelled.
      side note: I don’t give a shit about Kevin O’Leary’s opinion on how they’re saving the world.
      erica lawrence recently posted…turnip & rosemary soup

  2. Hey Erica! I absolutely agree with you on emphasizing the importance of talking to the farmers and going to the markets to buy the produce. We often put too much importance on label but they constantly trick us! The certified labels waste alot of energy because of transport, and still don’t do any good for local farmers and other wholesome foods- some of these farms are good if not better than “certified organic” labeled products but they just can’t afford to get the certification yet! We need to support them and also this is better for our health and neighborhoods. Thanks for another insightful article!
    Jesicka Labud recently posted…10 Common Misconceptions About Programming- Part II

  3. I LOVE farmers markets! It’s so important to buy local and support your local farmers. Walking home with a bag or bags full of fresh, chemical free, simple (no labels, travelling, packaging), vibrant products also puts you in a healthier state of mind! Thanks for sharing Erica!

  4. Hi Erica, love this post and raising awareness about GMO foods – labels are SO misleading, not to mention all the complicated jargon, loopholes etc etc making it ever trickier to understand what we’re buying – and eating. I totally agree that the emphasis should be on supporting LOCAL producers, farmers – reducing waste and reducing transport impact on the environment. Here in the UK there’s been a real move towards encouraging home-growing over the past couple of years – something close to my heart….of course this doesn’t guarentee non-GMO either, but there’s something to be said about re-educating people about what food actually looks and tastes like – perfect in its imperfections, the effort and care required and its rewards. Thought-provoking stuff, thank you! x

  5. Thank you for breaking this down, so good to know! Food labeling is such a confusing subject. I always try to buy as much local produce as I can. I live in California, so you would think that all of our produce should be local – but it’s not. It’s so crazy to walk into my local market and see organic peppers from Israel! Really – we couldn’t get organic peppers from anywhere closer?

    PS – love the chicken cameo!
    Nicole @theWardrobeCode recently posted…Personal Shopper: Coats

  6. Interesting post Erica. I’m a big fan of organic and try to buy as many of my fruit and veges as possible organic at my local farmers market every week.

    You’re right, there is no guarantee of cross contamination with GMO but buying organic does mean there’s a VERY good chance there are no GMOs. Plus there are all the benefits of no pesticides or chemical fertilisers being used. Also there are other categories for those in transition to certified organic, I believe they might be called ‘chemical free’ commonly? It takes several years to transition across from conventional farming to certified organic so there are also those inbetween.
    Michaela Cristallo recently posted…How to get unstuck and start creating (even when you’re completely uninspired)

  7. I see you share interesting things here, you can earn some extra cash, your blog has big potential, for the monetizing method, just type in google – K2 advices how to monetize a website
    Mariel recently posted…Mariel

  8. Awesome content you got here! You can earn some extra $$ from your blog, don’t miss this
    opportunity, for more info just search in google
    – omgerido monetize website
    Cindi recently posted…Cindi

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I spread the love