“Certified Organic” and GMOs

“Certified Organic” and GMOs – an Answer to a Question from a Customer.

A woman was in the store last week who had just come over here from Planet Organic, where she had asked this same question of two of their staff. ‘Do your products contain GMOs?’

One person told her that if it contained corn from the USA it had GMO even if it was labelled organic. The other person said that if it were labelled organic or NON-GMO Project Verified it does not have GMO ingredients. She was confused with their answer and came over to ask me. I think she was pleased with the thoroughness of my answer.

I live in an information bubble and assume everyone that comes into the store knows certain things… like what is ‘Certified Organic”.

A while ago there was a situation where a hidden camera crew went into Whole Foods and asked this question. They also got a variety of answers from no GMOs in Whole Foods to no GMOs in Certified Organic. Though I think this video is a little heavy handed and I am a little suspect as to the the way that it is cut and edited so that it implies Whole Foods intentionally misleads their customers. They are not an organic food store – they are a ‘natural food store’ and ‘natural’ for some reason allows GMO ingredients. You can see the video here.

This is, I beleive, the same tactic that ‘Planet Organic’ usues. The name of their business would imply that their products would be organically certified – test this out next time you are there. Are you buying Certified Organic or ‘natural products?

A good test is Kashi products from Kellogg’s. A natural and GMO ingredient product. Earth’s General Store has never carried Kashi products because of this.

I have been involved in the organic industry as a consumer for over 20 years and very intimate with the information out there especially when it comes to GMOs.

First off there is a difference between Organic and Certified Organic. When we use the first term – Organic – it can either mean: rustic; from the ground up; containing the element carbon (as in Organic Chemistry); or something that is closer to nature. When we use the second term – Certified Organic – it has a very specific meaning.

When something is “Certified Organic” it has to be produced/grown following strict criteria. There are some basic rules that have been established that anything that is Certified Organic can’t contain/use:

  • Irradiation (exposing foods to a radioactive source to kill bacteria, mold, fungus, enzymes, microorganisms, sprout inhibition, pest control, etc).
  • Synthetic Pesticides or Fertilizers (these are made from petroleum or natural gas)
  • Sewage sludge (municipals have a never ending supply of sewage sludge and is quite often used to fertilize crops – unfortunately sewage sludge is routinely contaminated with whatever people flush down their toilets and sinks plus some of the run off fro roadways)
  • And NO GMOs (genetically engineered).

Of course there are ingredients/practices that Certified Organic products have to not contain like growth hormones, colours, preservatives, artificial flavours, animals have to be treated humanely, animals have to be fed organic grains, animals have to have access to the outside, they have to have a certain amount of room, etc.

So the short answer is “No, Certified Organic products do not contain GMO”. (I would suggest that you read my other blog – “GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) in Organic Food?”

There is lots of good information on the internet about this subject. If you are concerned about GMO look for Certified Organic or NON-GMO Verified products in your store. If you purchase from your local farmer’s market ask the farmer whether they use GMO seeds and how the crop was produced? Questions keep people honest.

Not everything in Earths General Store is Certified Organic. This is true of all the ‘organic’ food stores in Edmonton. I believe we have the highest percentage of certified organic products though of all the stores. That being said I can say that 100% of our produce is 100% Certified Organic.

-Posted November 14th, 2013

  • Updated November 4th, 2015
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