What Is Non GMO? Does It Also Mean Organic And Gluten-Free?

what is non gmo

Article at a glance:

  • Genetic modification is used to change the DNA of organisms.
  • While genetic modification has production benefits, it also has many risks.
  • For fewer long-term issues, switching to non-GMOs benefits human health and the environment more.


What does non-GMO mean? What is non-GMO? Advancements in food and crop technology aren’t always 100% good. Sometimes, they’re there for convenience rather than a person’s health and well-being. Thankfully, there are still manufacturers and farms that stand by non-GMO farming. Also, labeling systems have made it easier to look for better produce.

With more people becoming more conscious about their food and where they came from, labeling terms like non-GMO, organic, and all-natural, among others, have started popping up. What do these mean? This article explores what non-GMOs are, why they’re safe, and how they compare with other produce labels.


GMO vs. Non-GMO


What Are GMOs?


With their long list of nutritional content and health benefits, you may wonder if superfoods like chlorella and spirulina also have drawbacks. After all, some well-known healthy foods may also be GMOs. Luckily, you don’t have to worry; chlorella and spirulina are both non-GMO foods.

GMO stands for genetically modified organisms. Genetic modification changes the genetic machinery of living things like plants and animals by merging genes or DNA from different organisms.

Many biotechnology companies can use synthetic biology to modify organisms genetically. Other times, producers use the more traditional methods of genetic modification, including selective breeding.

Regarding food production, some of the most well-known crops highly likely to be genetically engineered include canola, corn, and soybeans.


Why Are Crops Genetically Modified?


Most GMOs many are aware of are plants, specifically crops. Farmers tend to use genetic engineering for numerous benefits in production. These include the following:

  • Pest and disease resistance
  • Tolerance and resistance to environmental stressors (including frost and drought)
  • Less need for pesticides
  • More yield
  • Lower cost of production
  • Crops need a shorter time to mature


Risks of GMOs


While these may seem positive when producing food, they also bring some risks in the long term. Here are some risks that a genetically modified organism may bring.

  • An increased risk of having diseases that are resistant or even immune to antibiotics
  • Possible long-term health risks for people who consume them
  • Possible DNA damage to crops that thrive in a particular environment


What Does Non-GMO Mean?


What qualifies as non-GMO, and what are non-GMO foods?

It’s simple: non-GMO means products made mostly from non-genetically modified crops. A product with a non-GMO label, however, doesn’t mean it’s entirely or 100% GMO-free. How products are labeled may vary from place to place or organization to organization. However, many agree that products can only be considered non-GMO if they contain under 1% of GMO components.

Mostly, the certification process for non-GMO products is neither mandatory nor enforced by the government. Instead, they’re voluntary and are overseen by independent organizations, with testing done by third-party laboratories.


Why Go Non-GMO?


GMO vs. Non-GMO


Why should you choose non-GMOs in the first place? There are many non-GMO benefits that we can take note of, from environmental health to our bodies’ health.


1. Keeping You Healthy


Why is non-GMO good for you?

Agricultural practices used to grow GM crops tend to be destructive. Ironically, while GMOs are designed to resist pests, developing them would require more pesticides and toxic herbicides because plant and insect pests also adapt to the crops’ resistance.

By switching to non-GMO products, you will be less exposed to the harmful substances in pesticides.


2. Helping the Community’s Agricultural Programs


Going non-GMO is also a good way to support local non-GMO farmers, as these people usually offer the freshest produce you can get.

With the support for this type of produce, non-GMO farmers will have more incentive and resources to save seeds and preserve varieties that can thrive and become more resilient naturally. On top of that, you’re also contributing to your local economy.


3. Fresh Produce Means More Nutrients


Most GMO crops are engineered to last longer, and to do so, preservatives are widely used. But did you know those preservatives also tend to lessen nutrient content and the effectiveness of the nutrients?

With non-GMO produce, you’re guaranteed to get fresh items with more nutrients. These are generally healthier and have a better taste, too.

This is extremely beneficial for organisms used as supplements, such as spirulina and chlorella, as non-GMO ensures that the nutrients are intact and effective, letting you reap their benefits.


4. Less Exposure to Antibiotics and Growth Hormones


By choosing non-genetically modified foods, you are subjecting yourself to less antibiotics and growth hormones exposure.

Many GMOs, especially livestock, tend to use antibiotics and growth hormones. These have disastrous long-term effects on human health. First, the overuse of antibiotics has been proven to lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains, which would be harder to treat later on.

On the other hand, growth hormones used in livestock are considered carcinogenic for humans as they can promote tumor growth.


Getting to Know the Labels


While many of us want to switch to healthier options when it comes to our food, the many labels we find nowadays can be confusing. Knowing what each label means can help a lot in the long run when looking for the best and healthiest items.


Non-GMO vs. Organic


Does non-GMO mean organic?

As previously mentioned, non-GMO products don’t contain over 1% of genetically modified ingredients. However, they don’t need to be organic.

Meanwhile, products with the certified USDA Organic label should be non-GMO and organic.

Different organizations also handle the certification processes for each label. For one, the USDA regulates organic food certification, while independent organizations handle the other.


Non-GMO vs. All-Natural


Does non-GMO mean all-natural?

All-natural only involves food processing techniques used on the product. According to the USDA, all-natural products don’t contain any artificial ingredients and should undergo minimal processing.

Unlike non-GMO and Organic labels, the all-natural label isn’t regulated. As such, many producers and manufacturers may use the label without proving this claim.


Non-GMO vs. Gluten-Free


Non-GMO vs. Gluten-Free


Is non-GMO gluten-free?

Non-GMO and gluten-free aren’t related at all. While non-GMO indicates the absence of genetic modification, gluten-free means the product doesn’t contain a protein called gluten.

Gluten is a type of protein that is found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. In general, this protein isn’t harmful unless you have conditions that make the body react negatively to it. These include celiac disease, gluten allergies, and gluten ataxia.

People who suffer from these conditions look for gluten-free products to avoid adverse reactions that harm their health.

Gluten is not a product of genetic modification; some plants naturally have it, while others don’t.


Frequently Asked Questions


Does non-GMO mean no corn?


Not necessarily. Yes, corn is a high-risk, genetically modified crop, meaning if you buy corn, there’s a high chance it’s a GMO. However, there are still farmers and manufacturers who use non-GMO corn seeds.

Consequently, albeit rare, some manufacturers of corn-based products like corn syrup and cornstarch may also use non-GMO corn.


Are all fruits non-GMO?


Not all fruits are non-GMO. Some common GMO fruits include papaya, apples, bananas, and strawberries. However, most fruits that you can easily buy at grocery stores are still non-GMO.


How do you identify GMOs and non-GMOs?


How can you tell if food is non-GMO? While the USDA doesn’t necessarily monitor and regulate the certification of non-GMO produce, it has now mandated that food sellers put a label on their products if they’re genetically modified.

For easy identification, you may find GMOs labeled “bioengineered” or “BE.”


Steering Clear of GMOs


Many may claim that GMO crops are safe to consume, but in the long run, looking for better choices provides a long list of benefits to your health and the environment. From food to supplements like chlorella and spirulina, getting the non-GMO version affects your body more positively than its bioengineered version.

Hopefully, we’ve helped you learn more about non-GMO foods and food labels to look for. Switch to non-GMOs and experience its long-term benefits for yourself!


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John Riedl

Simply put that’s why I’ve gone down the health journey of research and creating health brands.

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