Q: Are GMOs (genetically modified organisms) allowed in certified organic products?
A: GMOs are prohibited in USDA organic (certified organic) products and agriculture. Organic cows cannot be fed GMO corn. Lecithin from GMO sources cannot be added to an organic product. In USDA certified organic products, up to 5% of non-organic agricultural ingredients may be used IF there are no organic alternatives. However, even if they are non-organic, these ingredients cannot be from GMO sources. Organic farmers must create a barrier zone around their organic crops to prevent co-mingling of conventional and GMO seeds and pollen.
At any time an organic product may be tested for GMOs by either the USDA pr bu their third-party certifying agency. If traces of GMOs are found, the organic producer must work with the certifier to re-evaluate their organic systems plan to figure out the source of the contamination and make adjustments. (Larger buffer zone, more extensive cleaning of processing equipment or storage.) If an organic operation is found to be intentionally using GMO seeds, feed, or other ingredients, or being negligent about their organic systems plan to prevent co-mingling, they are subject to losing their certification and financial penalties.