Over the course of her medical career, Dr. Juli Mazi ND has always touted the benefits of eating foods that are grown naturally. However, Mazi says that her patients often approach her with questions surrounding the various labels they find on foods at the supermarket. To help clear up some of this confusion, we’ll take a look at advice from Dr. Juli Mazi ND regarding the important distinctions between Non-GMO and USDA organic.

What Does Non-GMO Mean?

Today, many fruits, grains, and vegetables are produced via plants that are genetically modified in order to exhibit certain properties. For example, some crops are genetically modified to exhibit resistance to certain herbicides so that farmers are able to spray their entire field without harming the crop. Other crops are genetically modified to grow larger, more attractive fruits and vegetables.

While these benefits make genetically modified crops great for the farmers growing them, Dr. Juli Mazi ND warns that numerous studies have demonstrated a range of negative health effects associated with consuming foods that contain GMO ingredients, including allergic reactions, immune suppression, reproductive effects, and more. For this reason, some companies have started selling products that are labeled non-GMO, meaning that they are produced without using any GMO ingredients.

What Does USDA Organic Mean?

Foods that are labeled USDA organic can only be made with ingredients that are grown using entirely natural methods. Things such as chemical herbicides, chemical pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers are all off the table for products that hope to earn the “Certified USDA Organic” seal. Like non-GMO products, USDA organic products can also not be produced using any GMO ingredients.

Non-GMO vs USDA Organic: Which is Better?

If you are concerned about what goes into the production of the food you eat, Dr. Juli Mazi ND advises that USDA organic is a better choice than non-GMO alone. Products with a “Certified USDA Organic” seal offer the same health benefits as non-GMO products since neither are allowed to use ingredients that have been genetically modified. However, USDA organic products take it much further by also insisting that the products be grown using only natural methods. With non-GMO products, this isn’t necessarily the case, and non-GMO products can still contain ingredients that are grown using harmful chemicals such as the herbicide glyphosate, which is proven to cause a broad range of harmful side effects in humans.

Purchasing non-GMO foods is a better option than purchasing foods that contain GMO ingredients according to Dr. Juli Mazi ND. However, USDA organic products remain the best choice of all for those that are concerned about only consuming the healthiest foods possible. In an ideal world, products that were genetically modified and/or contain herbicides or pesticides should require labeling, but at least we have non-GMO and organic labeling to let us know which foods are safest for our consumption.