Difference Between Non GMO and Organic

The main difference between non GMO and organic is that non-GMO products do not contain genetically-modified (genetic material altered by the techniques of genetic engineering) ingredients whereas organic products do not contain ingredients grown with the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Further, the organic food is healthier than non GMO.

Non-GMO and organic are two types of food varieties found in the market. Knowing the exact meaning of two terms is useful to choose healthy food.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Non GMO
     – Definition, Verification, Condition
2. What is Organic
     – Definition, Verification, Condition
3. What are the Similarities Between non GMO and Organic
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between non GMO and Organic
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Conditions, Non GMO, Organic, Verification

Difference Between Non GMO and Organic - Comparison Summary

What is Non GMO

Non-GMO refer to products verified by the non-GMO project, stating that they do not contain any genetically-modified material, which means that their genetic material is not altered by the techniques of genetic engineering. However, the non-GMO label does not tell that the products are organic. The non-GMOs can be grown by using the conventional, non-organic methods in which the pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers have been used.

Difference Between Non GMO and Organic

Figure 1: Logo of Non GMO Project

What is Organic

Organic refers to products certified by the national organic program (NOP) of USDA. These are grown with the use of organic methods. Also, no GMOs allowed in organic products. However, up to 5% of the organic is allowed. All the non-organic products used here should be in the USDA’s list of products that are permissible to be included in organic products. The exact term “organic” means that the product is “100% Organic”.

Main Difference - Non GMO and Organic

Figure 2: Organic Vegetables at a Farmers’ Market in Argentina

Conditions for Organic Products

  1. Processing should be 95%-100% organic. The remaining 5%, which includes water and salt should not contain GMOs.
  2. The use of chemical fertilizers, synthetic substances, irradiation, sewage sludge, or GMOs in organic production is prohibited.
  3. The use of antibiotics and synthetic hormones in organic meat and poultry is prohibited.
  4. 100% organic feed should be used for organic livestock.
    Non GMO and Organic

    Figure 3: USDA Organic Seal

Similarities Between Non GMO and Organic

  • Non-GMO and organic are two types of food labels found in the market.
  • Both avoid of genetically modified stuff.

Difference Between Non GMO and Organic


Non-GMO refers to non-genetically modified food while organic refers to the products that avoid the use of man-made fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators, and livestock feed additives.


The ingredients in non-GMO are 99.1% non-GMO while ingredients of organic are more than 95% organic.


The non-GMO are verified by the non-GMO project while organic products are regulated by the NOP of USDA.

Chemicals and Fertilizers

Non-GMO products may grow with synthetic pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers and sewage sludge-based fertilizers and herbicides while organic products grow only with organic fertilizers, without pesticides or herbicides.

Artificial Coloring, Flavoring, and Preservatives

Non-GMO comes with artificial coloring, flavoring, and preservatives while organic products do not contain such ingredients.

Use of Growth Hormones, Antibiotics or Animal Byproducts for Animal

Non-GMO products may grow with the use of use of growth hormones, antibiotics or animal byproducts for animal while organic products prohibit those things.


Non-GMO animals may be given non-organic feed while in order to be organic, the animals have to be fed with organic feed and have outdoor access.


Non-GMO products are free of genetically-modified organisms while organic products are grown without man-made chemicals. Organic products are also free of genetically-modified organisms. The main difference between non-GMO and organic is the type of conditions used in the processing.


1. “What Is Non-GMO? What Are Genetically Modified Foods?” The Organic & Non-GMO Report, Available Here
2. “What Does Organic Mean?” BBC Good Food, Available Here

Image Courtesy:

1. “Non GMO Project” By Source (WP:NFCC#4) (Fair use) via Commons Wikimedia   
2. “Pepperseggplants” By Nsorensen at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Olybrius using CommonsHelper. (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia   
3. “USDA organic seal” (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things. She has a keen interest in writing articles regarding science.

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