Label-Reading Tips For Product Safety–Tip #1 #Organic Certifications & #GMOs

We’re still working on Tip #1 in our Label-Reading series! In our last post Label-Reading for Product Safety – Levels of Organic Certifications we spoke about the different levels of organic certifications and organic certifying agencies.

With the Golden Rule firmly in place, we’ll look at whether or not a USDA certification means a product is GMO-free.
Many assume that the USDA Organic certification means their product is non-GMO. As a matter of fact, I’ve heard many non-GMO advocates offer the tip that a USDA Organic certification is a way to avoid GMOs. Unfortunately, a USDA Organic certification does not guarantee that the product is, in fact free of genetically altered ingredients.
It’s important to understand how we, and by we, I mean the United States, determines organic certification. Here in the US, organic certification is process based.
To become a certified organic operation, the producer submits an organic system plan to a NOP accredited certifying agent for approval. The producer’s organic system plan includes a description of management practices and physical barriers to prevent contact or contamination of organic crops/ingredients with prohibited substances.  GMOs are prohibited as excluded methods.
To break it down a bit, a organic operation is prohibited from using GMOs as a part of the process/plan, but providing proof that ingredients are GMO free is not apart of that process. In essence, an organic operative’s sole responsibility is to follow the “organic production or handling process” correctly. As a matter of fact, if the certifying agency detects the presence of GMOs, it isn’t considered a violation of the rules, if the process was followed correctly…the manufacturing facility can keep their organic certification status.
NOP Policy states:

Organic producers that implement preventive measures to avoid 
contact with GMOs will not have their certification threatened 
from the inadvertent presence of the products of excluded 
methods (GMOs). Crops grown on certified organic operation 
may be sold, labeled and represented as organic, even with the 
inadvertent presence of GMOs, provided that all organic 
requirements under 7 CFR Part 205 have been followed.
Bit disappointing.
The document is quite an interesting and eye-opening read. I strongly encourage you to read it in its entirety. There are only 20 pages to this document. >>>>>National Organic Program GMOs PDF<<<<<<
Our best bet for a organic, GMO-free product would be be a USDA Organic certification AND a non GMO Project Verified certification for US-based facilities.
Miessence’s food-grade cosmetics bears the Australian Certified Organic logo and certification. The ACO’s standard requires testing for GMOs.
Some basic rules when certifying a processed product:
  • Obtain valid organic certificates for all certified ingredients
  • Non certified ingredients are generally permitted when certified ingredients are not available on the market.
  • Non certified ingredients cannot: be of GMO origin or manufactured using GMO technology, be fumigated or treated with compounds prohibited by organic standard, cannot exceed 10% of other contamination MRL as defined by FSANZ, cannot be irradiated.
  • Onus is [an] operator to obtain and supply ACO with proof non GMO, Irradiation and treatment statements for non organic ingredients.
  • The amount of non organic ingredient(s)  will affect the type of organic claim :
  • 100% certified organic content, label  can state “100% organic” + bud logo
  • 95%-100% certified organic content, label can state “certified organic” + bud logo
  • 70%-95% certified organic content, label can state “made with certified organic ingredients”,  cannot use bud logo but must indicate certification number (ie  ‘ACO  99999P’) (*exception for cosmetics)
  • <70 % certified organic content cannot make any certification claims, can only list ingredients as ‘organic’, cannot include certification number  or bud  logo –
Some of Miessence’s products have the USDA Organic certification, but all of the products have either ACO, food-grade or cosmetic certifications. A guarantee that our products are GMO-free. Our Probiotic Skin Brightener, by example, has both the ACO(food-grade) and USDA Organic certification.
Recently, I announced that I was no longer recommending the KeVita Probiotic Drinks that I promoted a few years ago, due to my discovery of their use of a bio-engineered probiotic strain, Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086. KeVita is a USDA certified organic facility. Hereby stressing the vital need for GMO testing in addition to the US organic certification process.
Stay tuned! We’re moving on to Tip #2 in the next blog!
Author’s Note:
I’ve contacted KeVita in December of 2013, as of today, I’ve yet to receive a response to my concerns.

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