Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

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
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

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

Join the Non-GMO Project at Expo East 2014

Friday, September 12th, 2014

ee14_logo_169x165We’re excited to see all of our participants in Baltimore this September for the Natural Products Expo East. Drop by our booth (#1148) to say hello to our team! Below is a list of events at Expo we will be attending or think will be valuable to participants or companies interested in pursuing Non-GMO Project Verification.


Lessons in Sustainability
10:30 – 11:45 am, Level 300 Room 315
Katherine DiMatteo, Executive Director, Sustainable Food Trade Association
Linda Brown, Scientific Certification Services, ANSI
Wendy Behr, SVP Research, Development, & Sustainability, Whitewave Foods
Shauna Sadowski, Director of Sustainability, Annie’s, Inc.

Organic=Non-GMO and a Whole Lot More
2:00 – 3:15 pm, Room 314
Gwendolyn Wyard, Regulatory Director, Organic Standards and Food Safety, Organic Trade Association
Bethany Davis, Director of Regulatory Affairs, FoodState
Johanna Mirenda, Policy Director, Pennsylvania Certified Organic
Courtney Pineau, Assistant Director, The Non-GMO Project

GMOs 2.0: What You Need to Know About Synthetic Biology
2:00 – 3:00 pm, Level 300 Room 322
Michael Hansen, Senior Scientist, Consumer Union
Melody Meyer, Vice President for Policy and Industry Relations, UNFI
Dana Perls, Food and Technology Campaigner, Friends of the Earth
John Roulac, Founder and CEO, Nutiva
Jim Thomas, Program Director, ETC Group 

2,4-D: What it Means for GMO Labeling
3:30 – 4:45 pm, Level 300 Room 309
Scott Faber, VP Government Affairs, Environmental Working Group
Doug Gurian-Sherman, PhD.Senior Scientist, Director of Sustainable Agriculture, Center for Food Safety
Michael Hansen, Senior Scientist, Consumer Union
Mary Ellen Kustin, Legislative/Policy Analyst, Environmental Working Group
Jim Leahy, Executive Director, Citizens for GMO Labeling, Inc.
Paige Richardson, Campaign Director, Yes on 92
Rick Ridder, Campaign Consultant, Right to Know Colorado, RBI Strategies and Research


Preparing for Non-GMO Verification
1:30 – 2:30 pm, Level 300 Room 321
David Carter, V.P. of Operations and General Manager, FoodChain ID, Inc.
Maryellen Molyneaux, President, Natural Marketing Institute (NMI)
Ken Ross, CEO, Global ID Group, Inc.
Heather Secrist PhD, CEO, Genetic ID NA, Inc.

Welcome, Desirae!

Thursday, September 11th, 2014


We are excited to have Desirae Hill join the Non-GMO Project as the Marketing Associate!

Desirae draws insight from her experience working for large retail organizations, small manufacturing companies, nonprofits, and consulting. While she holds a B.A. in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing, and a technical degree in Visual Communications, Desirae’s career is an ongoing study of culture, human behavior, and communication.

Originally from Montana, Desirae fell in love with Bellingham’s culture of sustainability and green forests. As a part of the Non-GMO Project Communications team, her work encompasses design, content and strategy to expand the Non-GMO Project’s growing social media presence and to support consumer awareness.

Desirae is also a yoga teacher, closet-painter and vegetarian enthusiast. She spends her free time reading poetry and non-fiction, and adventuring with her adorable son and partner.

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

I have an unsatiated interest in the potential for design and technology to impact social change. The Non-GMO Project has done an outstanding job advocating for transparency and empowerment and is in a unique position to dialogue about the issues surrounding our food system.

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

In my previous experience as a Brand Manager for a local food manufacturing startup I gained an understanding of the inner workings of the industry. This insight has provided various lenses through which to see, helping me to engage in smart dialogue with our various audiences.

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

It’s important to me that we continue to empower people to make healthy food choices. Social media is an amazing tool to gather and share information and I’m looking forward to engaging with everyday people who power the movement.

Welcome, Joyce!

Friday, August 15th, 2014

jdebrevannes_photoJoyce de Brevannes comes to the Non-GMO Project with decades of experience in marketing  and communications for both the non-profit and for profit sectors. She began her career in  the entertainment industry, working for  DreamWorks, Paramount and Warner Bros. Believing that she should be of service, she  began looking for jobs with purpose and served as Creative Director and Marketing/Communications Manager for two  non-profits; in addition, she started two businesses of her own. Joyce has always been a passionate advocate for food sustainability, accessibility and transparency issues. But it was her experience in Marketing and Community Outreach for Whole Foods Market that really brought her concerns regarding GMO issues to the forefront. In fact, she drove over 1,200 miles to join our team in Bellingham!

Joyce is incredibly excited to begin her work with the Non-GMO Project. Her new role will encompass building upon existing programs, retailer relations, consumer outreach and expanding awareness of the Project’s mission. In her spare time, you will find Joyce hiking, biking, exploring farmer’s markets and finding any excuse to hang out with dogs.

What interests you about working with the Non-GMO Project, and what about this opportunity caught your attention? I’ve been blogging about food issues since 2004 and deeply believe that food should be just that … food. The Non-GMO Project is the preeminent verification program and one that has helped customers navigate store aisles and make informed choices for themselves and their families. I’ve not only seen it firsthand in stores, but in the many conversations I have had in communities. It’s an exciting time in the food sector as more people are becoming engaged and looking at where their food comes from and the impact it has on their health. The Non-GMO Project is an industry leader in this conversation, and it has become a trusted seal by making great strides in streamlining comprehension of this very important issue.

How do you think your prior experience will help you in working with the Non-GMO Project? My time at Whole Foods Market allowed me to get to know farmers, artisan food crafters and larger producers—folks working hard every day to make quality products with integrity. I love being that liaison between our producers and helping people understand their food choices. I am very proud to be a part of an organization creating such good change and helping to maintain transparency in our food supply.

What is important to you about the work you will be doing with the Project?
I look forward to providing education, support and enhancing communication between retailers and their customers. I am grateful to be able to both support conscious companies and empower consumers.

Non-GMO Project Expands Verification Capacity

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Public Demand for Non-GMO Choices Drives Growth in Program AdministrationNon-GMO Project Verified

With more than 20,000 Non-GMO Project Verified products representing well over $7 Billion in annual sales, demand for the iconic butterfly label continues to surpass projections. In response, the Non-GMO Project has trained additional certification bodies to serve as Technical Administrators for its Product Verification Program.

The role of Technical Administrators is to oversee the verification process and to issue evaluation decisions based on a product’s compliance with the Non-GMO Project Standard. This is comparable to the role organic certifiers play in overseeing the National Organic Program.

“We currently have more than 2,200 participating brands, and are receiving an average of 70-80 new verification inquiries every week,” says Megan Westgate, Executive Director of the Non-GMO Project. “By offering multiple technical service providers for verification, we’re ensuring that every company seeking Non-GMO Project Verification has options and gets the support they need.”

The Non-GMO Project’s original Technical Administrator was FoodChain ID. FoodChain is part of the Global ID Group, an international company with unsurpassed expertise gained from over 20 years of offering non-GMO verification and testing services. In addition to FoodChain, the Project is steadily onboarding new certifiers to administrate its program.

The first new certification body to complete the training process was NSF International, a global public health organization with 70 years of food certification and auditing expertise and a network of hundreds of expert auditors worldwide. Companies can now choose to work with either FoodChain or NSF in order to achieve Non-GMO Project Verification.

In addition, Where Food Comes From is currently in a pilot program for livestock product verification, and the company is on track to be fully operational by later this year. Where Food Comes From houses the expertise of both International Certification Services (ICS) and IMI Global, a leading verifier for the livestock industry.

The newest certifier to join the verification program is SCS Global Services (SCS), a global leader in third-party environmental and sustainability certification, auditing, testing, and standards development. SCS recently began technical training under the supervision of the Non-GMO Project and is expected to start working with companies in a pilot program this fall.

“We’re proud to be working with the world’s leading certification bodies,” says Westgate. “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 food companies wanting to verify their products.”

New and existing participating companies can indicate their preferred Technical Administrator 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
Phone:  877.358.9240, x112

Meet a Supporting Retailer!

Friday, June 27th, 2014

NorthCoastCoop_Arcata_CA_13.141811Across North America, retailers that sell Non-GMO Project Verified products are playing a huge role in the non-GMO movement.

Teaming up with retailers that support the mission of the Non-GMO Project is central to the work we do. Once products earn Non-GMO Project Verification, we work to make sure shoppers know what the seal means and why choosing non-GMO is important. Small independent natural food retailers and co-ops helped found the Non-GMO Project. Nowadays, all types of retailers—independents, co-ops and conventional grocers—are bringing non-GMO choices to their customers. Here we will highlight some of the awesome stores we love to partner with through our Supporting Retailer Program and our annual October event, Non-GMO Month!

Spotlight for June is on:

North Coast Co-op

Since 1973, the North Coast Co-op has been a member-owned food cooperative with two full-service grocery stores in Arcata and Eureka, CA. They operate a production bakery and deli using healthul, local and organic ingredients whenever possible.

With all of North Coast’s active involvement, from store policy to community outreach, we felt compelled to share their non-GMO story.

What inspires the team at North Coast Co-op?

“We recognize that our members are concerned about the potential negative health and environmental effects of GMOs.

Our members expect to find products without GMOs and we are endeavoring to meet that expectation. In addition, we feel we can strongly influence vendors and regulatory agencies to label GMOs if we band together with other co‐ops.”

What inspires us about North Coast Co-op?

North Coast has demonstrated their commitment to GMO alternatives through the products they sell and their creative outreach during Non-GMO Month and beyond.

As their policy states, “We are no longer knowingly accepting NEW non‐organic products that include GMO high‐risk items in their ingredient list, unless they are verified by The Non‐GMO Project.”  North Coast does not stop there, they are also working to ensure that all Co‐op private label products—not just new products—are free from high risk ingredients.

Read the store’s GMO policy!

The folks at North Coast also make their non-GMO efforts look fun. Not only did they inspire us with thier winning endcap design in 2013, they produced seven radio ads to share their non-GMO message during the run-up to October’s Non-GMO Month.  They call out Non-GMO Project verified products on their shelves, as well as in their sales flyer. They even promote their Non-GMO Month participation on thier register screens and newspaper ads.

North Coast sets a shining example for co-ops to demonstrate responsibilty in their product sourcing, and they help customers make informed decisions. Many thanks for all their hard work!

Up next month: Dean’s Natural Market

11 Tips for Non-GMO Summer Skin Care

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

As BBQs, swimming, gardening and recreational adventures ramp up for the summer season, consider what this extra outdoor time means for the largest organ of the human body—your skin! Since warm weather is right around the corner for much of the country, the Non-GMO Project has reached out to the skin experts for ideas on how to keep your skin in love with summer. Companies of Non-GMO Project Verified skin products share some of their favorite tips to having the healthiest, happiest and non-GMO summer skin possible.


Raw Elements

Apply Enough Sunscreen and Reapply Often 

In order for sunscreen to be effective as advertised, the correct amount must be applied.  Approximately a teaspoon size amount is needed to adequately protect the face, ears and neck. Using less than the correct amount drastically reduces the sunscreen’s ability to protect the skin and the SPF claim will not be met. It is imperative to reapply sunscreen often, at least every 80 minutes during long periods of sun exposure. It is wise to reapply after any water exposure, sweating or towel drying. Applying and reapplying often will give the sunscreen the best chance to perform effectively.

Choose Broad Spectrum Zinc Oxide Protection 

Donʼt let the term ʻBroad Spectrumʼ on the label make the sale for you; look deeper. Zinc Oxide is the only ingredient that physically blocks the entire range of UVA & UVB. Zinc Oxide sits on top of skin and is not absorbed like other ingredients. It is also not a skin irritant. Look for Zinc Oxide percentages to be over 18% and the only active ingredient.

Dr. Bronner’s

Discover Coconut Oil’s Many Talents 

Coconut oil is more than a tasty cooking ingredient. It’s also good for makeup removal—especially around the eyes where skin is the most delicate—and replenishing skin cells in the epidermis. As an added bonus, it also helps battle wrinkles!

Andalou Naturals

Love the Shade

It’s important to limit direct sun exposure, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM, when the sun’s rays are strongest. Even on an overcast day, up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can penetrate through cloud cover. For best protection and comfort it’s best to stay in the shade.

Get an Undercover Agent

Wear clothes that protect your body. If you plan on being outside on a sunny day, cover as much of your body as possible. Wear a hat. Consider using an umbrella for shade. And don’t forget to protect your eyes with quality sunglasses that offer maximum UV protection.

Defend the Skin You’re In

Sun exposure is the primary cause of skin damage and premature aging caused by weakened, damaged cells, described as free radicals. To help defend your skin against damaging free-radicals and premature aging, we recommend our antioxidant-rich Daily Defense SPF 18 and BB Beauty Balms with SPF 30. Better than ordinary facial sunscreens, Andalou Naturals facial sunscreens with Fruit Stem Cell Science act like supplements for your skin, working inside and out.

Renew, Repair, Regenerate!

Antioxidants are nature’s secret weapon against premature aging caused by sun damage. Antioxidants effectively neutralize free radicals by donating one of their own electrons to mend and stabilize the weakened, damaged cells. These stable antioxidant nutrients act as scavengers, helping to prevent and reverse cellular tissue damage. Fruit Stem Cell Science is a highly concentrated and effective dermal delivery for cell-saving antioxidants.

HANA Organic Skincare

Get a Good Tone! 

Toners work to rehydrate dry, dull summer skin and restore your skin’s natural pH level. Spritz our Gentle Toner onto your face and neck to refresh and invigorate, after cleansing or taking a dip in the ocean!

Hydration for Health 

Drink water! Our bodies need water to thrive, and our skin needs water to keep it hydrated, supple, and full of nutrients. Four to six glasses a day, especially with the summer heat, and your skin will thank you!


Make Friends with Shea Butter

Unrefined Shea butter is one of your skin’s best friends. In recent clinical trials, Shea Butter was found to help to protect skin against climate and UV aggressions, prevent wrinkle formation, soothe irritated and chapped skin, and moisturize the epidermis. Shea Butter also enhances cell regeneration and capillary circulation, which helps prevent and minimize stretch marks, inflammations, and scarring. For direct application to the skin, take a small amount in the palm of your hand. Rub your hands together to warm up the butter until it is smooth and liquid. Then, apply to your skin. If you are concerned about an oily feeling, use only a small amount or apply the Shea Butter before going to bed. Shea Butter absorbs quickly into the skin, but there will be a few minutes that it feels oily.

Cook with Red Palm Oil

Its common knowledge that one of the most important things you can do for your hair and skin is eat a healthy diet and drink sufficient amounts of water. The hair specifically requires fat soluble vitamins A & E to nourish the roots and scalp. Red Palm Oil is not only very high in vitamin E, but also in beta carotene. When consumed, beta carotene is converted by the body into vitamin A. One tablespoon of Alaffia’s Non-GMO Project Verified Red Palm contains 170% of the daily value for vitamin A!

Welcome Heather!

Friday, May 16th, 2014

h_jan1Heather grew up traveling all over the world, though she considers her home to be the Pacific Northwest region. As a result of that global education she has a tireless interest in global issues of resource access and education and how individuals and institutions can change to create better opportunities for everyone. The other result of family travels is a passion for recreating traditional meals from everywhere.

As a natural extension of her love of food and culture, Heather developed her science background into a deep and critical interest in farms and transportation. That interest turned into multiple long term projects involving practical solutions to local farm supply chains, pesticides and pollinators, educating consumer choices, and petro-politics at the grassroots.

She recently relocated to Bellingham with her daughter, and she is excited to get out and talk with farmers across Whatcom County about what they are growing and experiencing.

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

I made a conscious decision many years ago to work in the non- and not-for-profit arena because I have seen and experienced such a tremendous need for organizations dedicated to social and environmental change. I was familiar with the Non-GMO Project from its outset, and used the Standard in my own work as a local food and farms advocate and grocery retailer. To have the opportunity to join in with such a dedicated group of people doing necessary work is, for me, a dream come true.

Being involved with an organization that can help change market forces and large scale behaviors is exciting and engaging on many, many levels. To be able to “do good” beyond my local area as well as satisfy my native curiosity and professional interests is nothing but lovely.


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

I have a tremendously varied background. That said, it is not just that I am familiar with a broad set of disciplines, I also have a fairly in depth understanding across those disciplines. It is often hard to explain what an information professional, aka librarian, with an interdisciplinary focus does! I have a background in the sciences, a real interest in what certification systems are capable of in a variety of settings, and a deep commitment to collaborative project development. More than any of this, however, I am just a passionate activist who is driven to adding my academic and experiential background towards social empowerment. Food and farming issues – especially when you add the technology of genetic modification – are nothing if not opportunities for economic, political, legal, and educational change.


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

I have primarily worked at a more local scale, though my understanding and studies have certainly covered larger interactions. I consider the Project to be fundamentally important to many interrelated issues. The intersection of technology, corporate control, farm and food supply, and market behavior is not a place to act with blind trust; especially given the nature and history of all of these areas. Being able to work on feasible, productive interactions that drive awareness and change in our food systems is critical work, and I could not be more excited to be able to contribute.