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What Does Non-GMO Mean?

For starters, it is important to understand what "GMO" means. A genetically modified organism (GMO) is a plant or animal that has been altered using genetic engineering to produce a desirable characteristic. When it comes to agriculture, the idea behind genetic engineering is to produce desired traits such as pest resistance or drought tolerance.

Some state governments and many consumers are in favor of legislation requiring manufacturers to disclose if food products contain genetically engineered ingredients on the labels. Further, more and more consumers also prefer products made without genetically engineered ingredients that include a "Non-GMO" statement on product labels.

Non-GMO and Labeling

"Non-GMO" is a word that is broadly used in the United States. If a label claims a product is Non-GMO, it means it is produced using ingredients that have not been genetically engineered.

Organic Purchasing Decisions Chart For Baby

Although "GMO" means genetically modified organism, oftentimes it is not how the acronym is used by consumers in the United States. This is because "GMO" is often used to describe products that are manufactured without intentionally added organisms.

A product is "Non-GMO" if it uses ingredients from crops that do not have a genetically engineered version in the marketplace; or, if an ingredient could come from a crop that has a genetically engineered version, that ingredient comes from the version of the crop that has not been genetically engineered.

Are Genetically Engineered Ingredients Safe?

Yes. Leading medical and regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), vigorously review genetically engineered ingredients and foods for safety. Genetically engineered food ingredients have safely been used in food production for more than 30 years.

Organic vs. Non-GMO Infant Formulas

Organic Purchasing Decisions Chart For Baby

Are organic infant formulas Non-GMO? The answer is yes. Organic formulas that meet U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Organic Program certification requirements do not contain genetically engineered ingredients. Federal law prohibits companies from labeling foods "100% Organic" or "Certified Organic/USDA Organic" if they contain genetically modified ingredients.

However, Non-GMO infant formulas do not necessarily meet the USDA requirements for organic certification. If you prefer products that are Certified Organic, make certain to select products that are labeled per the requirements of the USDA National Organic Program.

Simply put, organic is always Non-GMO, but, unlike Non-GMO, products labeled organic also guarantee:

  • No use of toxic pesticides or chemical/synthetic fertilizers
  • No use of antibiotics or synthetic hormones, artificial flavors, colors and preservatives
  • Support for Organic farming practices and animal health and welfare
  • Regulated by the federal government under the USDA (Non-GMO products are not regulated and can vary based on the company or third party making the claim)

Choose organic, and the products you buy for your family will also be inherently Non-GMO.