peter777's picture
What is the USDA Organic tolerance level (%) for GMO corn in organic corn?

A:Expert Answer

There is no USDA tolerance level for GMOs in organic food.  The use of GM seed is an “excluded” method.  The organic program is “process-based” and therefore no threshold levels are established.


Here is a great fact sheet from USDA-AMS on this topic:


Here is an excerpt from that fact sheet:



Has a tolerance level (e.g. 5%) been established for the presence of GMOs in organic agricultural products?



The NOP regulations do not establish GMO tolerance levels. The NOP regulations establish a tolerance for the presence of pesticides registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that is set at 5% of the EPA tolerance level for the specific residue detected. No federal agency, including EPA or USDA has established tolerance levels for the inadvertent presence of the products of excluded methods (GMOs).


Certified organic food cannot contain GMO ingredients.  The use of genetic engineering is one of the "excluded methods" described in the Terms Defined section of the National Organic Program Regulation, available here.


WheatLover's picture

Peter777, if I am reading your question correctly, you are asking what percentage of an organic corn crop can be GMO (example 0.5%) yet still be labeled as an organic product. I think your answer can be found here

It specifically refers to what labels are used if GMOs are found in an organic crop. The short answer is, as long as the farmer followed an approved plan to avoid contact with "excluded methods" (practices that are not considered organic) in his crop, field, and tools, and the farmer had no knowledge of the presence of GMO, then his crop will retain an organic certification.

The document further stresses (and I will quote directly from the document) "Organic Standards are process based. The NOP regulations prohibit the use of genetically modified organisms, prohibit commingling or contamination during processing or handling, and require preventative practices to avoid contact with GMOs. Organic agricultural products should have minimal if any GMO contaminates; however, organic food products do not have a zero tolerance for the presence of GMO material."