If you do not know exactly what any of these terms mean, then you are likely to end in confusion.
That’s why the non-GMO vs organic debate has been going on for a while, now.
Between these two, which one is which? Do we have any clear differences between non-GMO and organic?
If they are different, then in what ways can we distinguish them? How similar is non-GMO and organic?
In this piece, we discuss what each of these terms means and the major differences between the two.
- 1 What Does Non-GMO Mean?
- 2 The GMO Controversy
- 3 Why Is Genetic Modification A Potentially Dangerous Technology?
- 4 How to Stick With Non-GMO Foods
- 5 What Are Organic Foods?
- 6 What Are The Benefits Of Organic Foods?
- 7 Organic Vs. Non-Gmo
- 7.1 1. Organic Foods Are Also Non-GMO
- 7.2 2. Organic Is Grown Without the Use of Pesticides
- 7.3 3. Organic Foods Are Grown Without the Use of the Herbicide Glyphosate
- 7.4 4.No Hexane Is Used To Process Organic Ingredients
- 7.5 5. No Use of Sewage Sludge on Organically Grown Plants
- 7.6 6. No Growth Hormones Used To Grow Organic Meat
What Does Non-GMO Mean?
The term non-GMO basically stands for non-genetically modified organisms.
It is closely related to the term GMO which stands for genetically modified organisms. GMOs are laboratory created organisms.
Over the years, concerns have been raised about the safety of the GMO to human health and the environment.
It is not just the scientists who are raising issues with GMOs, but environmentalists and consumers are also concerned.
No wonder non-GMO foods are becoming all the rage in all parts of the world.
As you go shopping in your local grocery store, you are likely to meet foods labeled non-GMO.
The purpose is to distinguish them from the controversial GMOs and help conscious customers make an informed choice.
The GMO Controversy
The genetic engineering or modification of plants involves the removal of at least one gene from the DNA of one organism and then combine it with that of the organism being altered.
Thus a gene could be taken from the DNA of a plant, animal, virus or bacteria and used to make superior plant species.
The new plant is expected to express some of the traits of the organism from which the additional genes were sourced.
For example, to give corn the ability to fight pests on its own, genetic engineers have infused into it genes from Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacterium. This type of corn is supposed to be pest-resistant.
Why Is Genetic Modification A Potentially Dangerous Technology?
One of the things about genetic modification is that the insertion of genes into a food plant’s DNA is done randomly.
The scientists behind the process have no idea where the introduced genes end up.
It is likely that in making the food plant better, the process disrupts the proper functioning of other genes.
The result is the potential creation of abnormal proteins which have never existed before and which could create allergens and toxins.
How to Stick With Non-GMO Foods
1. Steer Clear Of Certain Processed Foods
You will be surprised that over 70 percent of the foods in the grocery store, which are made of these ingredients actually contain GM ingredients.
That includes almost half of all the sugar used in processed foods.
2. Check for the ‘Non-GMO Project’ Label
You can, therefore, be sure that the food is actually non-GMO.
3. Eat Organic
While the non-GMO vs organic debate has attempted to distinguish the two, there is a clear similarity in the sense that both types of foods haven’t undergone any genetic engineering.
If you get a food labeled ‘organic’, go ahead and buy it since that’s definitely non-GMO.
4. Buy from Your Local Community
You are likely to be more confident about the authenticity of the fresh fruits and vegetables produced in your locality.
Instead of buying imported produce, support the local farmers by buying from them the best produce.
After all, the labels placed on store sourced produce could turn out to be nothing but a marketing gimmick.
What Are Organic Foods?
It is all because people believe that organic foods are healthier, tastier, and safer than regular foods.
When it comes to protecting the environment, organic foods have been found to be better than the non-organic varieties.
The term ‘organic’ is used to mean the way through which farmers go about producing certain foods.
As such, farmers produce organic foods without using any antibiotics, hormones, genetically modified organisms or artificial chemicals.
When it comes to the non-GMO vs organic debate, it is clear that the latter is also non-GMO.
Therefore, food cannot be labeled ‘organic; if it wasn’t produced without using artificial food additives such as artificial flavoring, coloring, preservatives, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and sweeteners.
To produce organic foods, farmers make use of organic fertilizers such as manure.
Organically raised animals are free of growth hormones and antibiotics their entire lives.
Because of the caution that was taken not to use artificial chemicals and fertilizers, organic farming leads to the improvement of the soil quality and the preservation of groundwater.
Since it reduces pollution, it is definitely good for the environment. This aspect seems to tilt the non-GMO vs organic debate towards the latter.
Not all farm produce is available in organic form. However, you are likely to come across meats, dairy products, grains, vegetables, and fruits which are organically produced.
But that’s not all. Some processed products including breakfast cereals, cookies, and sodas have also been presented as organic.
That’s all in the bid to tap into the growing number of consumers who appreciate organic foods.
What Are The Benefits Of Organic Foods?
1. Higher Nutrient Content
It has been suggested that organic foods could have more nutrients than their non-organic counterparts.
This is perhaps the reason you should pick one of these products on your next visit to the grocery store.
2. Higher Vitamin and Antioxidant Content
Did you know that there’s evidence to support the fact that organic foods have higher antioxidant content?
Several studies have been done on this subject with positive results. Besides containing lots of antioxidants, the foods also contain high amounts of iron, zinc, and vitamin C.
Of course, these studies have been conducted on foods such as corn and berries with positive results.
For this reason, scientists are now suggesting that you replace your regular cereals, fruits, and vegetables with organic foods to increase the number of antioxidants in your diet.
If you have to equal the number of antioxidants in organic fruits, you could as well eat one or two more of the regular fruits.
Plants grown organically are produced without pesticides and other chemicals.
Because of that, the plants produce more antioxidants in a bid to protect themselves.
By eating these foods, you end up benefitting from the antioxidants. There is no better way to fight the disease-causing free radicals that might ravage your body.
3. Generally Lower Levels of Nitrate
No artificial fertilizer is used to grow organic crops. For that reason, the crops have almost no traces of nitrate.
Ingesting high amounts of nitrate is known to lead to a high risk of cancer. Nitrate may also cause methemoglobinemia, an ailment that inhibits the ability of infants to carry oxygen.
4. More Good Fatty Acids in Organic Meat and Dairy
In addition to the other advantages, organic foods have high levels of good fatty acids including omega-3 and omega-6.
The nutritional content of these foods is also envious. For instance, organic foods contain more vitamin E, iron, and a number of carotenoids.
Organic Vs. Non-Gmo
1. Organic Foods Are Also Non-GMO
This is something you can be 100 percent sure of. All the foods marked ‘organic’ do not contain any traces of GMO ingredients.
In other words, buying organic is to go non-GMO. There is no other way about it.
When it comes to the non-GMO vs organic debate, this is about the only similarity there is between the two.
2. Organic Is Grown Without the Use of Pesticides
It is due to this reason that you should expect to get little or no traces of the harmful synthetic pesticides in organic foods.
This is thanks to the prohibition of the use of certain chemicals on organic foods.
This cannot be said about non-GMO foods which can be grown just like the conventional crops.
Because of the levels of toxins in non-GMO foods, eating them may cause leukemia and lymphoma.
To grow organic foods, farmers use natural pesticides thus limiting the levels of pesticide residue found in these foods.
This explains the reason many people are running from conventional foods to their organic counterparts.
3. Organic Foods Are Grown Without the Use of the Herbicide Glyphosate
A number of conventional crops such as wheat cannot be raised without the use of herbicides such as glyphosate.
When it accumulates in your body, this toxic substance may cause birth defects, breast cancer, and kidney disease.
This chemical has been blamed for the rising cases of autoimmune and neurological disorders.
As a consumer, you ought to be wary of the many wheat products which are presented and healthy alternatives.
Although some are labeled non-GMO or whole-wheat bread, they are not necessarily safe for your consumption.
4.No Hexane Is Used To Process Organic Ingredients
To extract oils from corn, soybean, and canola manufacturers use hexane, a known neurotoxin.
The trouble is that hexane traces have been found in the final products. Also suspected to contain traces of hexane are products such as vegetable protein and soy protein.
Hexane has been shown to be harmful to the central nervous system when inhaled.
It causes damage to the nerves and brain tumors. Concerning the non-GMO vs organic debate, there are no efforts to stop the use of hexane in the production of non-GMO products.
5. No Use of Sewage Sludge on Organically Grown Plants
‘Bio-solids’ have been used to produce non-GMO crops. While that may sound fancy, it is nothing more than treated domestic, hospital, and industrial waste.
These toxins are absorbed into the food plants. Due to the high toxicity of these substances, cattle have died simply by grazing on plants grown in sewage sludge.
6. No Growth Hormones Used To Grow Organic Meat
Any meat marked as ‘non-GMO’ could have been raised using dangerous drugs and steroids.
Not so for organic meat which is produced naturally from grass-fed cattle. When it comes to the non-GMO vs organic debate, the latter is always better as far as meat products are concerned.
To conclude the non-GMO vs organic debate, it is clear that organic products are better.
They are safer and healthier to eat than their non-GMO counterparts. While organic products are already regulated by the authorities in the US, this cannot be said about non-GMO products.
Thus there aren’t established any standards to manage the growth and production of non-GMO products.
From the discussions above, it is clear that organic is way better than non-GMO. You need to make a wise choice.