Where can I find organic GMO food?
July 8, 2015 9:53 PM   Subscribe

I'd rather buy organic food, but GMO and organic seem to be inseparable. Ignoring the question of whether GMO, organic, or any combination of these are good/bad for one's health, where can I find organic GMO food? I'd like to support biotechnology and genetic engineering, but not be subjected to pesticides.
posted by vixsomnis to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The USDA prohibits GMOs in crops certified as organic. (Cached version of the explanation, because the site is apparently down for maintenance.) So you won't be able to find GMO products that are officially "organic."
posted by jaguar at 10:08 PM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Off topic, but "organic" does not in any way imply "pesticide-free".
posted by brainmouse at 10:19 PM on July 8, 2015 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Like the jaguar says. It can't be USDA certified organic.
Plus the fact that at some portion of GMO crops are specifically engineered to be immune to a corresponding herbicide (see: Roundup Ready™). WP has these figures for some context: In 2010: soy (93%), maize (?), canola(?) (70%), alfalfa(?), and cotton (78%).

You might be interested in the "clean fifteen," a list of produce that is ostensibly "least likely to hold pesticide residues."

I think it's more than a binary issue however, there's at least one other pest management system between the two extremes of Roundup and organic, called Integrated Pest Management. Maybe there are others, maybe not.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 10:39 PM on July 8, 2015

Response by poster: @brainmouse, then I'm looking for the least amount of added chemicals, natural or not, rather than organic.

I was hoping GMO crops engineered to be resistant to pests (not sure if the nicotine gene in tomatoes/tobacco has been spliced into other plants -- some poisons I'm fine with) and weather extremes would also mean that it's possible to use less chemicals overall.

I'm not a big fan of USDA organic or the naturalistic fallacy. (I was using "organic" wrong.) Still, there's not a lot of choice other than organic/non-gmo and regular crops.
posted by vixsomnis at 2:46 AM on July 9, 2015

Your best bet is farmer's markets where traditional farming can cover a lot of different approaches (especially since certified organic is such a specific thing)
posted by Aranquis at 7:08 AM on July 9, 2015

Best answer: The most common use of GMO food technology is to allow crops to withstand higher level of herbicide applications, e.g. Roundup Ready seeds produced by Monsanto can withstand higher levels of Glyphosate herbicides (sold by Monsanto under the "Roundup" label). This technology obviously isn't useful for organic crops (no herbicides allowed), and it's probably not particularly useful for IPM (integrated pest management) crops. For these reasons, you might have trouble finding GMO crops with minimal chemicals used in production.
posted by alms at 7:21 AM on July 9, 2015

Seconding Jack and alms. I work in chemicals regulation, and the vast majority of genetic modifications relate to conferring pesticide (etc.) tolerance to feed crops so that they can survive broad, blanket chemical applications. Monsanto gets all the visibility for this, but they're not alone.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:43 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would look for a local farm that practices integrated pest management (IPM). Folks above are correct that you cannot find organic products with GMOs because that is part of the legal definition of organic.
posted by rainbowbrite at 1:45 PM on July 9, 2015

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