Organic Versus Non-GMO: What’s The Difference?

This article will help you understand the difference between USDA organic vs non-GMO food labels and empower healthy food choices.
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Last Updated on January 3, 2021 by Lori Geurin

Wondering if organic and non-GMO foods the same? If you’re like many people who pay attention to what goes into the foods you eat, the good news is that a growing number of food manufacturers now offer organic options. This makes organic food one of the fastest-growing sectors of food products in the U.S. 

The bad news is that these options can be uncertain, especially when it comes to food made without GMOs, or genetically modified organisms. There are so many questions. Let’s take a closer look at some of the differences.

Organic Versus Non-GMO Labeling

Some people try to eat an all-organic diet. Others focus on avoiding GMOs as much as possible. But, even though foods may be labeled as USDA-certified organic or Non-GMO, consumers may not understand the difference.

(And, no, it’s not because we’re shallow. We know that couldn’t be further from the truth.)

In some cases, there’s an intersection between the USDA Organic and non-GMO labels. But there are some key differences consumers need to be aware of when identifying organic foods and foods made without GMOs.

Usually, foods with the USDA organic label are manufactured without the use of GMOs as well as other standards certifying the food was produced with at least 95% organic ingredients.  

Foods labeled as non-GMO, however, only need to meet the criteria that they contain less than 1% of GMO content.

Stick with me here because we’re getting to the important part…

In fact, foods qualified as non-GMO may have been exposed to fertilizers or chemical pesticides. Animals may have been subjected to hormones or antibiotics. And livestock may not have been fed using 100% organic feed. 

All of this is useful information.

fresh organic carrots in a white bowl
It’s important to know the difference between organic and non-GMO food when selecting fresh produce.

The Bottom Line About Food Labels

In short, all USDA Organic certified foods are non-GMO, but not all non-GMO certified foods are organic.

The choices available to you at the grocery store today may be more confusing than those in the past. Yet anyone who is aware of what goes into their favorite organic chocolate brands needs to know what the labels mean.

Because, as you know, labels can be deceptive.

The infographic below, provided by PacMoore helps outline the differences between USDA Organic and non-GMO labels. With this in mind, you may want to Pin the image to save for the next time you go shopping for your favorite foods and healthy snacks.

organic versus non-gmo labels
Organic Versus Non-GMO Food Labels Infographic, courtesy PacMoore

Knowing the difference between organic and non-GMO produce can be a bit confusing at first but I hope this clarifies things for you.

The foods you eat are vital to your health so it’s crucial to avoid pesticides, antibiotics, and synthetic hormones as much as possible.

Keep this information in mind when you’re shopping and it will help you choose the cleanest, healthiest foods to nourish your body in the best possible way!


What do you think about organic vs non-GMO food labeling? Do you look for organic or non-GMO foods when you’re shopping?

Share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear your perspective on this!


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10 thoughts on “Organic Versus Non-GMO: What’s The Difference?”

  1. I can’t say I’ve found the labels confusing, but I never really looked into the exact qualifications for either certification. Your post outlines this really clearly, and it makes me want to continue buying organic products whenever possible.

  2. Very interesting! My parents were always into organic while i was growing up. We used to grow all our own vegetables with no pesticides and organic fertilizer like fish emulsion and things like that. Thanks for writing this! It’s very informative.

    1. Wow, Courtney – that’s great! It sounds like they’re very healthy people. Having your own garden is one of the best things you can do for your family I think. Thank so much for the kind words!

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