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Whether it’s from concern for the environment, their health or both, consumers are choosing organic foods and foods made without using genetically modified organisms (GMOs). 

The surge in popularity of these two categories has helped organic foods become one of the fastest-growing segments of food production in the United States. For anyone who has an awareness in what goes into the food they eat, walking up and down the aisles of the grocery store today reveals an increasing number of options, especially compared to current decades.

Not only do foods carry the recognized nutritional facts labels mandated by the FDA, but they also bear the symbols of organizations that certify organic food products as well as non-GMO food products. Even if these foods are distinctively labeled, there still may be some mix-up about what those labels mean. Some people may be trying to eat an organic or all-natural diet, while others may be concerned only about supporting companies that don’t use GMOs. This, along with the fact that there is some overlay between organic and non-GMO foods, can lead to misunderstanding.

Although there is some cohesion between the two groups, organic and non-GMO labels have specific meanings. For example, foods with the USDA Organic label have been made without the use of GMOs, as well as other standards certifying that the food has been produced with at least 95% organic ingredients. Foods labeled as Non-GMO, however, only need to meet the standards of containing less than 1% of GMO content. Foods certified as Non-GMO, for example, may have been exposed to chemical pesticides or fertilizers, animals may have been exposed to hormones or antibiotics, and livestock may not have been raised on 100% organic feed.

Overall, all USDA Organic certified foods are non-GMO, but not all Non-GMO certified foods are organic. 

Making sense of the differences between USDA Organic certification and Non-GMO certification is very significant to anyone who pays close attention to what he or she is putting in the grocery cart. The following infographic by PacMoore helps to mark these types of certification, and could come in handy next time you’re in the grocery store.

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