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.