The survey of more than 200 dietitians was conducted by Olivia's Organics at the April 1 Massachusetts Dietetic Association Annual Nutrition Convention & Exposition held in Norwood, MA. The results offer unique insight into consumer perceptions when shopping for organic or non-GMO foods.
"While the first genetically modified crop—the Flavr Savr tomato—was approved by the FDA 22 years ago, most consumers still remain confused and uncertain about what a GMO is, and how they play into the organic landscape," said Mark Pins, marketing director and vice president of sales at Olivia's Organics. "And, for those seeking counseling around food and nutrition, GMOs are still largely left out of the conversation. At Olivia's, we're committed to helping consumers cut through the clutter of information and misinformation. We clearly label all of our products as non-GMO verified and provide our consumers with consistent content that helps them make fully informed eating choices."
Regardless of the choices shoppers make concerning genetically modified food, Olivia's Organics has provided four key steps to ensure consumers have the most reliable information at their disposal.
1. Learn the Lingo. Certified organic food has been farmed and manufactured within the strict guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Farmers and handlers that hold a Certificate of Organic Production have submitted to a third party audit, certifying that USDA Organic Standards have been met. They are not allowed to use synthetic herbicides, pesticides and many other inputs. They also can't use anything that has been genetically engineered (GMOs). Non-GMO Verified food has been subjected to an additional third party audit. This verifies that it has been produced according to best practices for GMO avoidance. Note that organic foods are by definition non-GMO, but non-GMO foods aren't always organic.
2. Understand the Label. Certified Organic food will display the USDA Organic seal on the label. Look for this black/white or green/white logo. Products claiming to be "100% Organic" or "Organically Grown" may not have been through the auditing process and are typically not certified. Non-GMO Verified food will brandish the Non-GMO "Butterfly" logo. Products claiming to be "GMO Free" are not in compliance with the Non-GMO Project's verification process.
Much of the recent debate over GMOs has centered on labeling all products that contain genetically modified ingredients. The U.S. and Canada have no nationwide labeling requirements, but some companies have started labeling products that do contain GMOs. If you don't see the USDA or Butterfly seals and the ingredients contain corn, soybeans, canola, cottonseed, vegetable oil or any sugar other than "pure cane sugar," there's a good chance it contains GMOs.
3. Research the Issue. Finding information on the ongoing GMO debate can be challenging. It's best to seek out material from a variety of sources. Start by checking with the GMO Literacy Project through Penn State University, or keep up to date on the issue with media coverage.
4. Learn More About Brands. Once consumers understand the larger issue and how to read labels, they should also check the labels of the brands they frequently purchase to see where they stand on GMOs.
"We take pride in providing a comprehensive line of non-GMO verified produce that comes pre-washed and ready to eat," said Mr. Pins. "All of our labels display both the USDA Organic and Non-GMO Verified logos. This way, busy consumers who want healthy, sustainable food can buy Olivia's with the confidence that comes from knowing exactly what is in, and what is not in, our products."