October 14, 2014
WOLCOTT, Vt. – High Mowing Organic Seeds today announced that its entire line of seeds, all certified organic, has now been verified by the Non-GMO Project, an independent non-profit committed to preserving and building the non-GMO food supply.
High Mowing Organic Seed Company now offers the first full line of organic, Non-GMO Project Verified seeds for farmers and gardeners.
“This is an unprecedented achievement,” said High Mowing Organic Seeds owner and founder Tom Stearns. “We committed to this because organic, non-gmo seeds have to be the foundation of the healthy food system of the future.”
High Mowing Organic Seeds initiated the verification process for its 600+ varieties two years ago, committing itself to a rigorous process involving ongoing, third-party evaluation of the company’s extensive efforts to prevent cross-contamination in the field, along with sampling and testing of selected seeds. The process also included a thorough on-site inspection, and evaluation of the company’s detailed documentation of best practices, said Stearns. Every year, the company will submit to re-verification, in accordance with Non-GMO Project guidelines.
Based in Bellingham, Washington, the Non-GMO Project is North America’s leading third-party verifier of non-GMO food and products. “High Mowing Organic Seeds has been a dedicated non-GMO leader,” said Megan Westgate, Executive Director of the Non-GMO Project. “A non-GMO food supply is reliant upon non-GMO seeds, and High Mowing has shown its commitment to preserving and building non-GMO choices by starting at the source. We couldn’t be more honored to be working with such a purpose-driven company.”
The term GMO (genetically modified organism) refers to any organism that has had the genes of a different species inserted into its DNA. This differs from traditional methods of plant breeding, in which only members of the same species can be crossed to create new varieties. GMOs are not permitted under the National Organic Program, the federal regulatory framework governing organic foods. Since its founding in 1996, High Mowing Organic Seeds has been certified organic and has never sold genetically modified seeds. But as new genetically modified crops are developed, the risk that they will cross-pollinate and thus contaminate organic crops increases. High Mowing has long established isolation and other methods to minimize the potential for cross-contamination in the growing and distribution of seeds, and committed to the Non-GMO Project’s independent verification process to validate those practices.
Both High Mowing Organic Seeds and the Non-GMO Project believe consumers have a right to know what is in their food, Stearns said. Currently, 64 countries around the world require labeling of GMOs. In the U.S., only Vermont has passed a bill requiring GMO labeling.
High Mowing Organic Seeds sells its seeds throughout the U.S. and Canada. Stearns said the verification enabled the company to take a detailed and systematic approach to preventing GMO contamination.
“Verification further ensures that farmers gardeners, and consumers can feel confident about the quality and source of their seed, as well as the food grown from it,” Stearns said.
Stearns noted that his company has long been committed in this arena. In 1999, High Mowing Organic Seeds led a coalition of seed companies in signing the Safe Seed Pledge. In 2008, it joined the Organic Seed Alliance, the Center for Food Safety and the Sierra Club in filing a lawsuit requiring the USDA to conduct an Environmental Impact Study before allowing the deregulation of GMO sugar beet seed production. Earlier this year, the company took a stand against CMS cell fusion-derived seeds.
Stearns noted that Non-GMO Project verification is important for all seeds. “Even in crops that do not have GMO counterparts yet – like lettuce, carrots and beans – this process ensures that we are always improving our seed supply chain and identifying all the risks in advance,” he said. “Control of stock seed, location of production fields, harvest and handling protocols are just a few examples of what we have in place for all seed crops.”
Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, praised High Mowing Organic Seeds for its effort. Whole Foods currently carries the High Mowing Organic Seeds line of sprouting seeds nationally, and carries the company’s garden seeds and seed collections in stores in several regions.
“We are excited to see the great progress High Mowing has made over the years in their leadership in and commitment to organic and non-GMO seed,” said Robb. “We also appreciate their partnership with our Whole Kids Foundation and we continue to learn from them about the importance of Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified seed that creates choices for our customers now and in the future.”
Contact: Carrie Baker Stahler, 802-472-6174, x144