Are Non-GMO and Organic Certifications the Same?

While overlap exists, Non-GMO and Organic certifications are not identical. Differences exist in both the scope and the process for obtaining and maintaining each certification. Below is an overview of the two most recognizable certifications as it pertains to plant-based products.

Non-GMO Project Verified – The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization that independently offers GMO test verification and labeling for Non-GMO products. To be Non-GMO Project Verified, the Non-GMO Project applies the following consensus-based best practices for GMO avoidance:

  • Products can not contain more than 0.9% GMO ingredients
  • Require ongoing testing of all at-risk ingredients – any ingredient being grown commercially in GMO form must be tested prior to use in a verified product (ex. soybeans)
  • For low-risk ingredients, they conduct a review of ingredient specification sheets to determine absence of GMO risk.
  • Rigorous traceability and segregation practices need to be followed in order to ensure ingredient integrity through to the finished product.
  • Verification is maintained through an annual audit, along with onsite inspections for high-risk products.

Certified Organic – The National Organic Program is regulated by the USDA. Their organic certification is a process-based certification that requires farmers and producers to follow approved methods in order to achieve organic certification. To be organically certified:

  • At least 95% 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.
  • Prohibits use of chemical fertilizers, synthetic substances, irradiation, sewage sludge, or GMOs in organic production
  • Verification is maintained through 3rd party inspectors’ annual site inspections, organic system plan review, and residue testing (Residue testing is done when inspectors are concerned that farms or businesses have used prohibited substances or methods).

In summary, Non-GMO Project Verification has more stringent standards than Certified Organic as it pertains to reducing the risk of GMOs existing in your foods, whereas, the scope for Certified Organic includes prohibiting the use of chemical/synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

Simply Dara is proud of the fact that our RAW BALLS are Non-GMO Project Verified and we’ve recently applied to be Certified Organic, a certification we are looking forward to receiving in the near future.