The seal was developed by Organic Valley for use on foods sold and marketed under the Organic Valley and Organic Prairie brands, which are certified organic and also display the USDA Organic seal. The seal conveys to consumers that the organic standards prohibit genetically modified crops and ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms. (Organic standards do allow for the use of vaccines derived from genetically engineered organisms.) The prohibition on GMOs in organic agriculture is just one of many requirements in the organic standards, which are comprehensive and also prohibit synthetic and toxic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics, and more.
This label can be found on:
Foods that are sold under the Organic Valley and Organic Prairie brands. Other companies can use the seal as well, as long as their products are certified organic. Other companies that use the seal include Annie’s, Kemps (milk), and Foster’s (milk).
ORGANIZATION: Organic Valley (Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools or CROPP)
LABEL STANDARDS: USDA organic standards (7 CFR 205)
What this seal means
The seal is found primarily on foods sold and marketed under the Organic Valley and Organic Prairie brands, which are certified organic and also have the USDA Organic seal. Organic Valley states that the “Organic is Always Non-GMO” seal is a “reminder that all certified organic products are non-GMO.”
Since the federal organic standards prohibit the use of GMOs in organic production, the seal reinforces this message.
“GMO” stands for Genetically Modified Organism, and refers to plants, animals, or other organisms whose genetic material has been changed in ways that do not occur naturally. The “non-GMO” claim on this seal means that the food is made without ingredients that were derived from genetically engineered organisms, including the animal feed to produce certified organic meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs. Learn more about the general Non-GMO claim here.
Organic Valley is enrolled in the Non-GMO Project, with 38 of its products carrying the Non-GMO Project Verified seal. (Learn more about the Non-GMO Project Verified seal.) As part of its participation in this program, Organic Valley performs random testing for GMOs on livestock feed. In addition, organic certifiers may conduct GMO testing of commodities that are at risk of being contaminated with GMOs under the periodic residue testing requirement of the USDA National Organic Program. All organic certifiers are required to test samples from at least 5 percent of the operations they certify annually. Organic certifiers can choose what type of tests they perform, as long as they have performed tests on products from at least 5 percent of the operations they certify. They can test for prohibited pesticides, arsenic, and other contaminant metals, GMOs, synthetic hormones, and antibiotics.
A closer look behind the standards
The standards behind this seal are the same as the USDA organic standards.
Is the seal verified?
Yes. The seal is primarily used by Organic Valley, which only markets certified organic foods. Organic Valley allows other companies to use the seal, as long as it is displayed only on products that are certified organic and also display the USDA Organic seal. Organic certification includes on annual on-farm inspection, verification of an “organic systems plan,” possibility of unannounced inspections, and periodic residue testing.
What percentage of the ingredients have to be certified?
To be labeled organic, at least 95 percent of the ingredients have to be certified organic (by weight or fluid volume, excluding water and salt). While the remaining 5 percent of ingredients do not need to be certified organic, they have to meet other criteria and cannot be GMO.
Is the meaning of the seal consistent?
Yes. The seal can be used only when the product is certified organic. Producers have to meet all requirements in the organic standards in order to be certified and label their products as “organic.”
Are the standards publicly available?
Yes. The USDA organic standards are publicly available.
Is the organization free from conflict of interest?
Yes (same as USDA Organic).
Were the standards developed with broad public and industry input?
Yes (same as USDA Organic).