The NOP Organic Insider, USDA National Organic Program

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AnnouncementApril XX, 2011

The National Organic Program has released a policy memorandum addressing industry and consumer questions concerning genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in organic products. (Read the full memo here.)

Use of Genetically Modified Organisms in Organic Agriculture

NOP regulations expressly prohibit the use of GMOs in organic production and handling, defining it as an "excluded method" (7 CFR 205.105). Excluded methods include:

A variety of methods to genetically modify organisms or influence their growth and development by means that are not possible under natural conditions or processes and are not considered compatible with organic production.  Such methods include cell fusion, microencapsulation and macroencapsulation, and recombinant DNA technology (including gene deletion, gene doubling, introducing a foreign gene, and changing the positions of genes when achieved by recombinant DNA technology).  Such methods do not include the use of traditional breeding, conjugation, fermentation, hybridization, in vitro fertilization, or tissue culture. (7 CFR 205.2-Terms defined)

Compliance with the organic standards entails that operations have verifiable practices in place to avoid contact with GMOs. Since organic certification is process-based, presence of detectable GMO residues alone does not necessarily constitute a violation of the regulation.  

The NOP relies on organic certifiers and producers to determine preventative practices that would most effectively prevent contact with GMOs on an organic operation. The policy memo addresses frequently asked questions and will be incorporated in the next update of the NOP Program Handbook, scheduled for publication in the spring of 2011.

About the National Organic Program (NOP)
The NOP facilitates trade and ensures integrity of organic agricultural products by consistently implementing organic standards and enforcing compliance with the regulations throughout the world. Learn more.
About the NOP Organic Insider
The NOP Organic Insider is intended to inform the organic community on a wide range of NOP functions, including organic standards, accreditation and international activities, compliance and enforcement, the National Organic Standards Board, training events, and the Cost Share program.  


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