Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

The DARK Act: What’s Next?

Friday, July 24th, 2015

The Dark Act, What's Next?The House passed H.R. 1599 but the fight isn’t over yet.

On July 23, 2015 the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1599 (275-150). This sweeping bill would prohibit any current or future state law requiring GMO labeling, while at the same time dramatically undercutting federal, state and local government oversight and regulation of GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

The revised bill also includes a mandate for the USDA to create its own non-GMO certification program. While it won’t remove the Non-GMO Project Verified seal from the marketplace, the bill as written would create a competing label that would confuse shoppers and undermine the tremendous progress we’ve made on setting a high standard for GMO avoidance.

This is a serious concern for the Non-GMO Project, a non-profit that has been working since 2007 to successfully establish a consistent and rigorous standard for non-GMO claims. More than 2,000 brands now have the iconic Butterfly on their products, representing over $12 billion in annual sales.

H.R. 1599 is a dangerous bill that undermines democracy and represents the interests of the biotechnology industry over the interests of the American people. By preempting all state and local oversight of GMOs, the bill would negate more than 130 existing statutes, regulations, and ordinances in 43 states at the state and municipal level.

What’s Next

This is the most important fight there will ever be on the GMO issue. The Non-GMO Project will be active in Washington, D.C. in the coming months doing everything in our power to ensure that this bill does not make it through the Senate.

Concerned citizens across the country are asking how they can help fight this bill and how it will impact the Non-GMO Project. Watch our Facebook page for regular updates and sign up for The Butterfly newsletter for ways you can help.

As this moves to the Senate, there will be critical opportunities for non-GMO businesses to make their voices heard. Our brand and retailer partners can expect regular updates and calls to action from the Project over the coming months. We also welcome your questions and input as we work together to protect America’s right to know.

Seed Advisory Committee Nomination Process Now Open

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

The Non-GMO Project is re-forming a Seed Advisory Committee (SAC) to help provide guidance on standards development and engagement of this critical sector. We are seeking broad and balanced representation.

The SAC will meet monthly beginning in the summer of 2015. Appointed members should expect to spend no more than 3 hours per month, including participation in meetings. Objectives and action items will be clearly tracked and committee work will stay organized and accessible via a dedicated Google site.

A key focus of the SAC will be to develop recommendations for the Non-GMO Project Standard Committee regarding how to incentivize a stronger focus on seed within the product verification program.

To be considered for the committee, please fill out the nomination form.

The Project appreciates any assistance with getting the word out to qualified candidates.

The deadline for nominations is Wednesday, July 15. Candidates will be reviewed by the Standard Committee and Board, and appointments will be finalized by the end of July.

Does the USDA really have a new non-GMO program?

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

There’s a lot of confusion circulating about a May 1st letter from US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Portions of the letter went into media circulation today, and have been widely taken out of context and misinterpreted.

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has long offered a “Process Verified Seal,” which, according to the USDA’s website, “provides companies that supply agricultural products or services the opportunity to assure customers of their ability to provide consistent quality products or services.” Through this program, the USDA certifies a company’s own internal practices based on their documented quality management system.

process-verified-logo-250x2491

Today’s news is that for the first time a company has sought the USDA’s Process Verified label in connection with its non-GMO claim. The USDA has NOT created its own non-GMO standard. Rather, as part of the existing AMS PVP, it has signed off on one company’s own non-GMO practices. There is no transparency as to what these practices are, and they are not based on a third party standard.

The claim the company can make in connection with their approval is a variation on the USDA’s traditional PVP label, reading “Non-GMO/GE Process Verified.” This claim does not communicate any details as to the standards used or process followed. Non-GMO claims are not regulated and any company can say “GMO-free” whether or not it goes through the process with the AMS.

It appears that today’s news is being largely confused with the program proposed in H.R. 1599, commonly known as “the DARK Act.” Under this pending bill, the USDA would actually create its own non-GMO certification program and corresponding non-GMO label. The deeply flawed bill would also override states’ rights to require mandatory labels on genetically engineered products. Consumer advocates are doing everything possible to stop this bill, and we are optimistic it will be defeated.

For now, the only non-GMO label in the marketplace based on third-party verification to transparent, consistent standards continues to be the Non-GMO Project butterfly. This seal is your assurance that a product has met rigorous best practices, including ongoing testing, and has passed third-party audits and inspections for GMO avoidance. To date, the Non-GMO Project has verified more than 31,000 products.

Non-GMO Project Verified

As a non-profit organization, our mission is to preserve and build sources of non-GMO products, educate consumers, and provide verified non-GMO choices. We will continue to monitor developments with the USDA, and will keep you informed on breaking news. Today’s buzz about the AMS Process Verified claim is a testament to the nation’s growing focus on the GMO issue.

Correction: An earlier version of this blog incorrectly stated that the USDA approval would not include a special non-GMO label. The day after the original post, SunOpta came forward as the company in question and disclosed that the USDA had, in fact, created a special “Non-GMO/GE Process Verified” seal. The company will use the label on products shipping from its New Hope, MN plant, but finished products sold at retail will not include the label.

Non-GMO Project Continues to Expand Verification Capacity

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Non-GMO Project VerifiedParticipants can now choose from four Technical Administrators (TAs)

The Non-GMO Project is pleased to announce the addition of two Technical Administrators to pilot programs for assessing products to be compliant with its Standard. Participants in the Non-GMO Project Verified program now have more choices when selecting a Technical Administrator.

Where Food Comes From, Inc. (WFCF) and SCS Global Services (SCS) have entered additional pilot training to become a Technical Administrator (TA) with the Non-GMO Project. The IMI Global division of WFCF recently completed a pilot program focused on animal-derived products and is approved to accept verification clients for these products.

WFCF will focus on non-animal derived products in its pilot. SCS will handle all types of products in its pilot. If participants are interested in these pilot programs, they can choose either WFCF or SCS as the TA during the verification inquiry process.

The role of Technical Administrators is to assess products for compliance with the Non-GMO Project Standard. This is comparable to the role organic certifiers play in the National Organic Program. In its pilot programs, the Project works closely with each Technical Administrator to provide training as the TA evaluates the products that qualify for participation in the pilot.

Megan Westgate, Executive Director for the Project, praised the progress of both WFCF and SCS.

“We’re proud to be working with the world’s leading certification bodies,” she said. “Our goal is to maintain market unity, ensuring that the term ‘Non-GMO’ remains synonymous with our rigorous standard. We are committed to offering partnership opportunities to all credible certifiers, and we are pleased to be expanding program capacity for companies wanting to verify their products.”

The Non-GMO Project’s original Technical Administrator was FoodChain ID. NSF International was added as a new Technical Administrator last year. With WFCF and SCS now evaluating products in pilot programs, and WFCF now approved to handle animal-derived products, the Non-GMO Project is working with a total of four TAs.

With more than 29,500 Non-GMO Project Verified products representing well over $11 Billion in annual sales, demand for the iconic butterfly label continues to surpass projections.

New and existing participating companies can explore their Technical Administrator options by completing a Verification Inquiry Form on the Non-GMO Project website.

###

About the Non-GMO Project

The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices. Click to learn more.

Contact: Caroline Kinsman
Email: caroline@nongmoproject.org
Phone: 877.358.9240, x112

Join the Non-GMO Project at Expo West 2015

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

Natural Products Expo West 2015We’re excited to see so many Non-GMO Project Verified participants in Anaheim this March for the Natural Products Expo West. Drop by our booth (#8527) to say hello to our team!

Below is a list of events at Expo we think will be valuable to participants or companies interested in pursuing Non-GMO Project Verification:

FRIDAY, March 6

  • Non-GMO Mixer
    • 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM, Room 207-C
    • Come raise a glass! Hosted by INFRA and the Non-GMO Project, come join industry leaders in celebrating the progress being made in non-GMO awareness and education!

SATURDAY, March 7

  • Non-GMO Project Q&A Roundtable
    • 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM, Room 207-C
    • Engage with multiple departments from the Non-GMO Project to get your most pressing questions answered.

 

Non-GMO Project staff will deliver posters to Verified and In-Process brand participants to showcase brand status in the Non-GMO Project Verified program.

 

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES!

Already Verified? Email Caroline Kinsman about sponsorship opportunities to promote your brand!

2015 Non-GMO Month sponsors currently include:

Natural Vitality, Kettle, Beanfields, Garden of Eatin’, Andalou, Beanitos, Crown Prince, Wholesome Sweeteners, Enjoy Life Foods, Dorval Trading Company, Neal’s Yard Remedies, and Dr. Bronner’s.

Welcome, Deven!

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Deven Vilar, Non-GMO Project

We’re happy to welcome Deven on board as the Non-GMO Project’s Administrative Assistant.

Get to know Deven:

From an early age, Deven has had a close relationship with food. Growing up on the Eastern side of Washington, her grandparents owned a small dairy farm where she would help her grandfather feed the cows, collect eggs, and help out wherever she could. She learned the importance of label-reading through her mother’s career in the natural food industry. Deven is a recent graduate from Western Washington University, with a BA in Environmental Policy.

Outside of work Deven enjoys being immersed in nature, seeing live music, cooking with friends and family, and providing for her little cat Phil.

Q&A:

What interests you about working with the Non-GMO Project- what about this opportunity caught your attention?

Healthy living has been a passion of mine and having the opportunity to help other people live healthfully is a blessing. The opportunity to work with such a passionate and committed team is truly amazing. My personal goal has always been to do something that I love and to do something that matters. The work we do here at the Non-GMO Project absolutely falls into that category.

How do you think your prior experience will help you in working with the Non-GMO project?

I feel incredibly fortunate to start my career at the Non-GMO Project. I’ve spent the past year working as an intern for the organization, which has given me the experience and skills to prepare me for this new role. I look forward to growing with the Project!

What is important to you about the work you will be doing with the Project?

I believe education is the key to change. By encouraging thoughtful and educated consumers, we can make great strides towards changing our food system. I’m excited to support the Project’s mission by providing transparency and increasing availability of good, healthy food for everyone.

Public Comment Period underway through January 22, 2015

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Public Comment Period

The Non-GMO Project would like your input! Round 2 of the 2014 public comment period is currently open and will run for 60 days ending on January 22, 2015.

Round 1 of the Public Comment Period ran for 60 days ending on September 5, 2014. Based on the comments received [PDF], we are seeking input on proposed changes to the Standard [PDF].

We are also seeking additional input from the public on certain topics in the form of a survey, which is split up into two sections below.

Please provide your name and affiliation on the survey, and select if you would like your comment to remain anonymous. Thank you for your input!

Survey 1 covers the following topics:
Proposed changes to the Standard
Restaurant-Made Products
GMO definition
Bee products
Animal lifecycle requirements
Non-dairy milk substitutes

Survey 2 covers the following topics:
Action thresholds
Variances
Similarities to the organic standard

 


Proposed New Format and Organization for Our Standard:  Let us know what you think!

We are always looking for ways that our Standard can be more effective, and that’s why we created a new, more user-friendly format and organization for the Standard. [PDF]  We believe this new format and organization will be helpful to everyone and would appreciate your feedback.  No change in the Standard’s meaning or requirements is intended.  Let us know what you think before January 22, 2015 by emailing standard@nongmoproject.org

Non-GMO Month 2014 a Resounding Success

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Continuing in the spirit of growing awareness and impactful change, 2014’s Non-GMO Month was celebrated by more people from all levels of the food supply chain. Increased participation by shoppers, retailers and brands was evident across all of North America.

Here at the Non-GMO Project, we couldn’t be more pleased with the amplified level of enthusiasm and passion, and we are already well into planning Non-GMO Month 2015. Read on to learn about the success of this year’s campaign.

Non-GMO Month 2014 by the numbers

  • 2,000+ Participating Retailers
  • 115,000 sponsor-branded Non-GMO Project pocket guides distributed
  • 39,000+ entries in the Daily Giveaway Contest
  • 10.9 million impressions on Facebook
  • 10,000 sponsor-branded Non-GMO Project tote bags handed out
  • 533 new brands contacting us to participate in the Non-GMO Project in just two months!
  • 2,004 new products verified in the 90 days leading up to Non-GMO Month
  • 288 new inquiries about the Product Verification Program

Thank you for choosing Non-GMO Project Verified!

Growing awareness about and rising distrust of GMOs has led to more of us seeking out non‐GMO options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. By committing to purchase non-GMO choices, the availability of Non-GMO Project Verified products grows with demand. With more than 22,000 Verified products we now have more non-GMO choices than ever before.

Non-GMO Project Verified Sales 2014

To everyone who helped bring awareness to the non-GMO conversation, we extend a heartfelt “Thank you!” The protection of our food supply is in your hands, and we are grateful for your voices and your choices!

The More We Know, the More We Grow

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

The More We Know, the More We GrowToday, in light of the GMO labeling ballot initiatives that took place across the U.S., we reflect on the overall growth of an incredible people-driven, knowledge-building movement.

If you had spoken to typical grocery shoppers in 2010, it is unlikely many of them would have heard of the term GMO (genetically modified organism). Fast forward four short years. There are now mandatory GMO labeling initiatives in more than half the states across the U.S.—all driven by citizen awareness, action and demand for answers.

It is no mistake this groundswell movement is called the Right to Know. It’s a movement based on knowledge—the lack of knowledge about what is in the food we feed our families, the desire for knowledge on every product we buy, and the demand for this knowledge to be shared collectively across the country. And today, we continue to witness that knowledge spreading from state to state.

In 2012, California ‘s Prop 37 became the first ballot initiative to bring this important debate to a citizen vote. Then, in 2013, Maui County passes Connecticut (with Maine following suit in 2014) passed a contingency law preparing to put mandatory labeling into action once surrounding states pass similar laws. Also in 2013, Washington’s I-522 offered voters another opportunity to pass mandatory labeling at the state level.

While the two state ballot measures (CA and WA) were narrowly defeated (2.8% and 2.18% respectively) and the state-initiated laws faced legal loopholes, the spotlight was placed on our right to know more about GMOs in our food–providing a taste that quickly turned into a hunger for knowledge.

In 2014, Vermont passed the first no-contingency mandatory labeling law in the U.S. Building on that momentum in 2014, Colorado and Oregon became the next two champion states to take on the Goliath biotech industry. On the beautiful island of Maui, where the year-round growing season make it attractive to biotech development, residents have become increasingly concerned about the health and environmental impacts of GMO farming. Late election night, Hawaiian citizens celebrated a stunning turnaround victory for banning GMO production in Maui. After being behind most of the day, the Maui County ballot initiative passed by more than 1,000 votes.

Meanwhile in Colorado, biotech opponents of Prop 105 poured $12 million into the state, outspending the Yes side 20 to 1. While the defeat is disappointing, we must remember the battle always results in awareness. With each measure, more and more citizens become engaged in rallying for our Right to Know.

Oregon’s Measure 92 is still too close to call two days post election. Ballots remain to be counted, and the margin is barely at 1% for the opposing side. As consistent with all GMO labeling efforts, opposition spending in Oregon was led by biotech companies. In fact, the $20 million total contributed to the No side broke Oregon State record for the most spend on one side of an issue. A margin so slim when the financial infusion is so high makes a powerful statement: Citizens want to know.

”At the end of the day, this is a social movement,” said George Kimbrell, chief author of Measure 92 and a senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety. “It’s about peoples’ right to know, and we know we’re going to eventually prevail, regardless of the outcome in Oregon.”

The incredibly slim losses on state ballot initiatives can feel disappointing, but the battle is far from over. And the win is in the details. The Right to Know movement and the advancement in GMO awareness are stronger than ever, despite being outspent by giant biotech corporations. In survey after survey, more than 90 percent of U.S. citizens say they want GMO labeling (Consumer Reports 2014, New York Times 2013, MSNBC 2011, Reuters and Washington Post 2010).

In the face of lacking mandatory labeling requirements, North American brands are listening to their customers and seeking voluntary labeling options, such as Non-GMO Project Verification, at an exceeding rate. Currently, there are more than 22,000 Non-GMO Project Verified products!

Our annual Non-GMO Month in October had more than 2,000 registered retailers educating their teams and having meaningful conversations with their customers about GMOs.

And every single one of us votes each day with our wallet and our heart by choosing a non-GMO lifestyle.

Here are four important things we can do every day to help protect non-GMO choices and the future of our food:

From all of us at the Non-GMO Project, we truly thank you for your passionate commitment to the movement. Don’t give up the fight — knowledge IS power!

Non-GMO Month 2014 Launches Oct. 1

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
Are you ready? Join the 2,200 brands and more than 2,000 retailers that are empowering consumer voice by celebrating Non-GMO Month 2014! 0-celebrate-non-gmo-month

It’s October, and that means natural food stores across the U.S. and Canada are taking part in Non‐GMO Month, celebrating the public’s right to choose food and products that do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Organized by the Non-GMO Project, this month-long event provides a platform for citizens and organizations to stand up for the right to know what’s in their food and to choose non-GMO.

GMOs are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other animals and plants. These experimental combinations of genes cross the natural species barrier and have not been proven safe. Studies increasingly show a connection between GMOs and an array of health risks and environmental concerns. While GMOs are labeled or banned in most developed countries, in the U.S. and Canada they are unlabeled and are found in nearly 80% of processed food.

With U.S. consumer confidence shaken by ongoing food safety failures, distrust of GMOs is growing. As a result, consumers are increasingly seeking non‐GMO choices, and SPINS data has reported that Non-GMO Project Verified is currently one of the fastest growing label claims, reaching more than $8 billion in annual sales of Verified products.

Throughout October, shoppers will be able to find Non-GMO Project Verified choices featured at more than 2,000 Non-GMO Month registered retail stores. On the Non-GMO Month website, people can search the events calendar, find retailers, and enter a Non-GMO Month Daily Giveaway contest.

###

Additional information is available at www.nongmomonth.org.