While shopping at your local grocery store, you’ve no doubt come across the labels “non-GMO” and “organic.” Many health-conscious people try to avoid genetically modified ingredients, and they also tend to prefer organic goods to conventional ones. However, the two designations are not at all the same. As you make purchasing decisions about natural foods, it’s important to know the differences between these two labels so that you can determine which products are the best choice for you and your family.
What’s the difference between non-GMO and organic?
Foods that are labelled as non-GMO don’t contain any genetically modified ingredients, but they aren’t necessarily organic. The opposite is true of USDA-certified organic foods—these items are required by law not to contain any genetically modified ingredients, as well as to be raised or grown without the use of synthetic pesticides.
Which is more expensive, and why?
Some retailers and food industry professionals have wondered how non-GMO and USDA-certified organic foods impact each others’ sales. Though many natural-minded consumers prefer non-GMO and organic foods, they’re likely to choose the former over the latter when faced with both options. The reason? Non-GMO foods don’t also have to be certified organic, so they are usually less expensive.
“The non-GMO label threatens the USDA Organic label,” director of The Scoular Company Greg Lickteig told Organic Connections Magazine. “Given two products on the grocery store shelf, one being non-GMO and the other organic, the non-GMO product will most certainly be less expensive.”
Are there any major health differences?
The Mayo Clinic notes that while there aren’t any nutritional differences between organic and conventional foods, there are major differences in pesticide levels and instances of food additives.
On the GMO side of things, many food activists have demanded better research on the long-term consequences of genetic modification—but there haven’t been any proven health risks noted yet.
Your personal beliefs about the environment, sustainable agriculture and pesticide risk should guide your decision to buy non-GMO or organic goods. If you’re interested in avoiding genetically modified crops and reducing your pesticide exposure, those are good reasons to look for the USDA Organic and non-GMO labels on your food. Just remember that by purchasing non-GMO products, you’re not necessarily getting a certified organic good. If you buy something that’s USDA-certified organic, you can rest assured your food doesn’t contain any genetically modified ingredients.