The Non-GMO Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices. The organization began as an initiative of independent natural foods retailers in the U.S. and Canada, with the stated aim to provide non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) labeling for products produced in compliance with their Non-GMO Project Standard. Over 6,000 products are Non-GMO Project Verified, and annual sales of Non-GMO Project Verified products were $2.4 billion in 2012.
Non-GMO Project Standard
Product Verification Program
The retailers who started the Non-GMO Project were motivated by a simple idea. They believed that consumers in North America should have access to clearly-labeled non-GMO food and products, now and in the future. That conviction continues to guide the Non-GMO Project, as North America’s only independent verification for products made according to best practices for GMO avoidance.
What does “Non-GMO Project Verified seal” mean?
The verification seal indicates that the product bearing the seal has gone through our verification process. Our verification is an assurance that a product has been produced according to consensus-based best practices for GMO avoidance:
- We require ongoing testing of all at-risk ingredients—any ingredient being grown commercially in GMO form must be tested prior to use in a verified product.
- We use an Action Threshold of 0.9%. This is in alignment with laws in the European Union, where any product containing more than 0.9% GMO must be labeled. Absence of all GMOs is the target for all Non-GMO Project Standard compliant products. Continuous improvement practices toward achieving this goal must be part of the Participant’s quality management systems.
- After the test, we require rigorous traceability and segregation practices to be followed in order to ensure ingredient integrity through to the finished product.
- For low-risk ingredients, we conduct a thorough review of ingredient specification sheets to determine absence of GMO risk.
- Verification is maintained through an annual audit, along with onsite inspections for high-risk products.
Are products bearing the “Non-GMO Project Verified” seal GMO free?
Unfortunately, “GMO free” and similar claims are not legally or scientifically defensible due to limitations of testing methodology. In addition, the risk of contamination to seeds, crops, ingredients and products is too high to reliably claim that a product is “GMO free.” The Project’s claim offers a true statement acknowledging the reality of contamination risk, but assuring the shopper that the product in question is in compliance with the Project’s rigorous standard. The website url is included as part of the Seal to ensure that there is transparency for consumers who want to learn more about our verification. While the Non-GMO Project’s verification seal is not a “GMO free” claim, it is trustworthy, defensible, transparent, and North America’s only independent verification for products made according to best practices for GMO avoidance.
What about the other products that I see on the store shelf
that claim they are “GMO free?”
While you may see other claims regarding GMO status (e.g. “GMO free”), these are really not legally or scientifically defensible, and they are not verified by a third party. The Non-GMO Project is the only organization offering independent verification of testing and GMO controls for products in the U.S. and Canada. Buying products that are verified by our program is the best way to support the sustained availability of non-GMO choices in North America.
Does purchasing “Non-GMO Project Verified” products help make a difference?
Yes! As a non-profit organization, we are committed not only to verifying and labeling products, but also to supporting and coordinating efforts between seed breeders, farmers, processors and manufacturers. These efforts are allowing us to protect and even expand the availability of non-GMO seeds, ingredients and products.
Non-GMO Project History
The Project began as an initiative of independent natural foods retailers who were interested in providing their customers with more information regarding the GMO risk of their products. As the Project evolved, it became clear that in order for the initial vision of standardized labeling to be possible, a 3rd party verification program was needed that would identify products compliant with a uniform, consensus-based definition of non-GMO.
With the help of technical consultants FoodChain Global Advisors, and fueled by the passion of a dynamic array of industry leaders, the Non-GMO Project has successfully created a collaborative non-GMO verification program that began enrolling products in the fall of 2008. Working at every level of the supply chain, all the way back to the seeds, the Project’s role is to inspire and ensure viable non-GMO alternatives long into the future.
The Non-GMO Project works in several different capacities to ensure the availability of non-GMO products and to help support informed choice. We offer North America’s only third party verification and labeling for non-GMO food and products. We also work to educate consumers and the food industry to help build awareness about GMOs and their impact on our health and food systems. One of the inherent risks of genetically modified crops and food items is that they contaminate non-GMO crops and foods through cross-pollination and/or contamination; so we also work with food manufacturers, distributors, growers, and seed suppliers to develop a standard for detection of GMOs and for the reduction of contamination risk of the non-GMO food supply with GMOs.