When you see the Certified Organic label, what does that mean?
Any products carrying the label you see to the right have gone through a rigorous application and certification process with the USDA to confirm that the products are made with only organic ingredients. The producers must also maintain meticulous records and submit to audits to verify that all claims are accurate. Almost any product you can think of can be certified from produce, meats, skin care products and clothing.
In the case of animals, it also means their diet consisted of organic feeds. For beef cattle, their pastures must be certified organic and if they are offered silage (dried grasses), for example during times when their grasses are covered by snow, that silage must also be organic.
Do Organic Products contain GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)?
No. GMOs cannot be used and in the case of beef, the cattle cannot consume GMO grasses. To receive certification, farmers and producers must show that they are using no GMOs in the entire process of producing their product from farm to table. This includes utilizing certified organic production facilities and transportation to prevent cross contamination.
Farmers go to great lengths to prevent contamination of their fields and pastures. These preventive measures are site specific depending on the risks, such as a neighboring conventional farm. One such method would be planting or using barrier land and selling those products or cattle as non-organic. To be certified organic, producers have to submit plans on preventing any GMOs from contaminating their land. These plans are verified and audited to ensure compliance to regulations and the plan. You can read more at the USDA blog.
What about Pesticides and Herbicides?
For land to be certified organic it must be free from the use of herbicides and pesticides for a minimum of 3 years. If a certified organic producer is found to use any forbidden substances in the production of their product they will lose their certification and face very high fines.