Does Organic Always Mean GMO-Free?

Posted on Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Does organic always mean GMO-free? The answer is usually. It can be difficult to keep up on all the issues concerning food safety, so we try to help our customers stay informed so they can feel more confident about the products they buy. If you want to be in the know then please like us on facebook.

If an item is labeled 100 percent organic then it most certainly does not contain GMO ingredients, however, the USDA organic certification seal does not require 100 percent of ingredients to be organic. It only requires 95 percent to be organic meaning that the other 5 percent can contain anything on the USDA’s approved National List, which may be viewed here. Although the list does not specify GMO ingredients as being approved, there are some gray areas.

A recent article from the website,, explains these gray areas in great detail for those who want to read more. I will list some of the things to look out for here.

In section 205.606 of the National List there is a list of non-organically produced agricultural products allowed as ingredients in processed products labeled organic. The list includes a whole bunch of stuff including the more questionable beet juice, lecithin and cornstarch. These are gray areas because beets, soy (the most common form of lecithin) and corn (used to make starches) are the most common genetically modified crops.

If a product label does not contain the USDA organic seal but says, “made with organic ingredients,” then it is only required to contain 70 percent organic ingredients. Leaving even more gray areas. Again these products are usually GMO-free but then again you have to research all those hard-to-pronounce chemical ingredients to get the full story and see how they are made and what they are made from to be sure. Glucose from corn is a common starting medium for preservatives and thickeners.

Section 205.605 lists the non-agricultural substances, both non-synthetic and synthetic, allowed in processed food products labeled organic. The list is quite long and includes many questionable ingredients that deserve a closer look. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), citric acid and xanthan gum are just a few that could contain GMOs. This because they are made with glucose. The cheapest forms of glucose are from corn or beets, which are most always genetically modified unless otherwise specified.

Much of these gray areas are only an issue with packaged products. Sticking to locally-grown whole foods is always your best bet. Much aloha. See you at The Hut!




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Author | shastin

I am an aspiring artist, chef and free-thinker. I am into health, organic local food, nature, art, music, reading, writing etc…:-)

2 Responses to “Does Organic Always Mean GMO-Free?”

  1. Thanks so much for helping to raise awareness and linking back to our article! <3

  2. Rob says:

    I am now consciously making the decision to eat and live as organic as possible, and your insightful articles help me to achieve this. I get so confused with Organic and GMO-Free, and other labeling, so thank you for sharing.

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