What does Non-GMO, Organic, and Fair Trade Mean?

GMO, Non-Gmo, Organic, Fair Trade? What does it all mean?

Lately, I've been getting a lot of social media marketing work from companies with a non-gmo platform. This would be a good topic for a homeschool research paper. You've heard organic and nonorganic- is this the same thing? How are Fair Trade and GMO related? Let's talk about that. Let's learn about that, okay? Enjoy!

What does Non-GMO, Organic, and Fair Trade Mean?
What does Non-GMO, Organic, and Fair Trade Mean?

Chaotic Confessions: The first time I heard non-gmo, I was all like, "Yeah, I've heard of that, I know what that is." and I did... sort of. I knew it was something an ecologically minded, environmentally friendly, bleeding heart should support, but I didn't know why- exactly. 

It is okay... you can admit it too. When you don't know something, never be afraid to ask. What is the worst that can happen? Someone will laugh at you. Guess what, most of the time they don't know the answer either, they're just trying not to get found out! I get laughed at all the time, but I also know a lot of things others don't, because I am willing to look stupid uneducated/naive. You wouldn't believe all of the amazing things you can learn, if you aren't afraid to ask!

GMO - this is how we see it, but it is really G.M.O. which stands for a Genetically Modified Organism. That sounds bad. It doesn't mean every GMO is bad. They were designed for good. That's the idea anyway, but like all things political, people seem to be either for or against them. Yeah... I'm just going to tell you the facts.

Genetically Modified Organism - Wikipedia says a whole lotta stuff! The simple answer is it is what it says it is, an organism that has been genetically modified using science and engineering techniques. In a manner of speaking, most are designed to avoid herbicides or to act as insecticides. Here is a better definition of GMO.

Glofish are genetically modified organisms. They glow, because some scientist made them glow. (My kids want one, the only reason we don't have any yet is because we are still learning to keep fish alive.)

Genetic modification involves mutation, insertion, or deletion of genes. Remember Dolly, the cloned sheep? That's weird, right? I don't know. A lot of people want to clone (or do clone) their pets. If it were legal, you know people would clone loved ones. I miss my dog.

Cloning food though, when there isn't enough? Modifying plants so they grow where they won't normally...  It seems like their heart is in the right place. 

What's the problem? The fear of the unknown, of unpleasant genetic mutations, of making cancer causing things. And then, there's the whole we aren't God thing, we won't touch that one either. Just listing it here for the whys and why nots.

So, if that is what a GMO is, then what is a Non-gmo? The opposite, of course. If you visit the Non-GMO Project, you can find products that are GMO free. Hearty Naturals 100% Organic, Extra-Virgin Coconut Oil is also Non-GMO.

Is this the same as Organic and Non-organic? Well, it can be. It mostly is, but Non-organic things could be either GMO or Non-GMO depending on how they are made or manufactured. The scary part here is... some things are sometimes considered Organic, when they have direct contact with GMO's. Get it? Got it? Good!

For example, your organic milk from your free range cow was fed a GMO grain or even a GMO grass. So, although your milk isn't processed in a non-organic way, the cow ate genetically modified food. That can't be right? Can it?

The idea behind organic is that it is all natural. You find an apple tree never treated for bugs, the apples aren't as big because it also isn't genetically modified in any way = Organic.

When mothers are breastfeeding, they are told not to take certain medications, because the medication may find its way to the milk supply... If your cow eats a chemical, you eat a chemical.

That's a brief, easygoing definition of GMO vs. Non-GMO and Organic vs. Non-Organic. You should Google for more information.

Now, on to Fairtrade. People who tout organic and non-gmo also tout fairtrade products. What is Fairtrade? It is based on international trading practices and people who create products from marginalized countries. It works to help sustainable development and improved trading conditions. No children working for 5 cents an hour or day to make our clothing. No woman from a third world country tricked into selling her handmade goods for pennies on the dollar. The true definition is more complicated than that, but you get the idea. Respect others, respect the Earth. Compassionate Essentials is a fair trade market selling handmade jewelry.

Ahh... did you catch the word sustainable up there? Have you heard the word sustainability and wondered what it means? It seems like such a big, scary word, but it is really simple. Sustain means to keep going, to comfort, to help, to assist, to support. Help yourself to live, support yourself by growing a garden. Sustain the environment by recycling. Go green! Sustainability? Will it be able to continue without being completely destroyed? If you grow an organic garden vs. a massive farm plot that utilizes GMO's, you can save our natural resources. If all the factories and technology are destroyed will you be able to sustain your life and that of your family? Recycling helps save trees. Get it? Got it? Good!

You may also want to visit Green Rainbow Revolution, a company dedicated to offering Non-GMOs.

Recommended Reading:

Fair Trade

Seeds of Deception


Lora is a homeschooling mom, writer, creator of Kids Creative Chaos, and Director of the Play Connection.