I know

  1. organic = non-GMO + no pesticides (source);
  2. non-GMO = pesticides possibly used;
  3. pesticide-free = possibly GMO.

Do non-GMO foods actually have more pesticides in them?

  • how do you "know" it ? any references ?
    – Max
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 0:38
  • @Max Your question has been addressed here, but I've added a source link.
    – Geremia
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 0:43
  • @Geremia That link you provide doesn't define what organic means, it just states requirements for labeling... (the definition of organic might be somewhere else on that site, but not on the page you link to)
    – remco
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 6:25
  • And, "have more pesticides in them": more relative to what? Organic foods, GMO-containing foods, something else?
    – remco
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 6:26
  • 1
    Copper, sulfur, ... see blogs.scientificamerican.com/science-sushi/… Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 16:22

2 Answers 2


No. "No-GMO" means exactly that. There is no Genetically Modified Organism in the content of your purchase.

In general you GMO your veggies and wheat (and others) so you don't need to use pesticides on them because they are designed to be more resistant.

So yes, your question

Do non-GMO foods actually have more pesticides in them?

come from that logic. You need to spray food from outside because it's not resistant on it's own. So the amount of chemicals per tone (or hectare) is higher in "non GMO" than it is in GMO.

Organic thought it totally depended on law. In EU to call something organic you need to stay below certain quota of pesticides per hectare (in big generalisation, you can read more here EU law on organic production)


There is doubt about what you call PESTICIDE. Because you can use synthetic one (Like the one Monsato is making) or natural one (like tobacco). The first one is more to be used in big industrial farms, while natural can be easily made in small farms where it's more financially better to have their own plot of natural pesticide.


This 2016 NPR post, which relies on some scientific studies, claims there is no clear answer on whether foods labeled “non-GMO” have more pesticides in them than GMO foods:

Pesticides include both insecticides and herbicides. Backers of GMOs point to the example of crops containing new genes that fight off insect pests, so farmers don't have to spray insecticides. Biotech critics point to the example of crops that have been altered to tolerate specific weedkillers, like glyphosate, thus encouraging farmers to rely more heavily on those herbicides.

They cite the 2016 study {1}, which draws a mixed conclusion. Interestingly they note that:

the results indicate that the difference in pesticide use between GE (= genetically engineered) and non-GE adopters has changed significantly over time.

which makes the answer to the question more complex than it first seems.


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