WSJ: Organic vs. Non-GMO Labels. Who’s Winning?

Please keep the discussion on the comparisons between the two labels, and not the validity or virtues of GMO (or non-GMO) food products.

A lot of organic food labels I see also say “non-GMO.” Seems like a marketing no-brainer, like putting “gluten free” on things that naturally contain no gluten.

It would be interesting to have more detailed statistics. When I looked into it not long ago it seemed like it was almost impossible to find non-GMO corn or soy that’s not also organic, but maybe at the wholesale level it’s easier.

Given the various standards for both organic and non-gmo labeling, I’d imagine it is possible for some certification board or organization to certify something as “organic” but not “non-GMO”.

There’s not really any wiggle room. If it’s certified organic, it’s non-GMO.

related side note: food product packaging design is so difficult because of this sort of thing. the job that I had before my current one was @ a nutritional supplement company (as a packaging graphic designer).

the amount of rules, restrictions, laws, standards, etc (both regional and federal) that affect the wording on packaging for consumable products is staggering. the company that I worked for has an in-house legal department to sort through and approve every word/phrase that goes on any aspect of the product packaging and inserts (+ advertising, etc.) and there were still challenges from the FDA and lawsuits about “false claims”.

it’s not a matter of which words are “winning” on the product labels/packaging–but more a matter of which products are approved to have those words on their labels.

Unlike “organic,” “non-GMO” isn’t regulated by law in the US. Anybody can put that on their packaging. Proving a false claim would be difficult since unless you have a paper trail back to the farm (which I believe is required for certification).

Yes, but which definition of “non-GMO” is being used?

There are more than one, and certainly some definitions of “non-GMO” differ than the one used by the USDA.


I’d be surprised that whatever regulating agencies who need to be involved in this issue aren’t working on rules/restrictions that will need to be implemented. the feds are always behind the “trends” and only act on things when they become an issue/problem that they can’t ignore any longer.

The major trend trend is that >90% of US corn and soy production shifted to glyphosate-resistant GMOs with essentially no regulation or testing.

There’s so much lobbyist money supporting that status quo that I think it’s politically impossible to regulate “GMO” the way they have “organic.”

Have GMO’s been shown to reduce flavor of food?

Virtually all GMO products currently on the market in the US are things without much flavor anyway, such as high-fructose corn syrup, soybean and canola oil, lecithin, and sugar.

Papayas are the only GMOs I know of commonly distributed unprocessed for human consumption in the US. You could do a taste test of GMO vs. non-GMO papayas, but any difference in flavor could also be due to other factors such as soil, climate, ripeness, and freshness.

yeah, monsanto spends tons of money on buying congress. these days it seems politically impossible to regulate anything. the only way change appears to be happening now is when the voices of those who want change becomes louder than those who resist change.