FAQs – Product Verification
Ongoing testing is required for all GMO risk ingredients (a list of risk ingredients can be found on p. 32 of the Non-GMO Project Standard). Our program is a process-based verification designed to employ testing as a best practice at the most efficient point in the production chain. Typically, this is where ingredients are least processed and consolidated in the largest amounts, for example, during initial processing. From there, traceability and segregation ensure that the tested ingredient maintains its purity. The Non-GMO Project Standard allows testing to occur at any one of a variety of places in the production chain, but testing of finished product (except as an occasional quality control measure) is not encouraged as it is not a reliably accurate measure of GMO presence.
Why should I enroll if my products are already USDA certified organic?
While the National Organic Program (NOP) identifies genetic modification as an excluded method, GMOs are not a prohibited substance. This means that although GMO seeds are not supposed to be planted, and GMO ingredients are not supposed to be used, no testing is required. These rules were established at a time when GMOs were in limited production, and accidental contamination was not a significant risk. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. With the majority of key crops like soy and corn being planted with GM varieties in North America, contamination of seeds, ingredients, and products is a real risk, even for certified organic products. The good news is that the NOP has excellent guidelines for traceability and segregation, and the Non-GMO Project is designed to honor the work that certified organic companies are already doing, with the added measure of testing risk ingredients at critical control points. Many founding members of the Non-GMO Project are the leaders of organic companies. These pioneers understand that protecting the long-term integrity of organic products, starting at the seed level, requires that they be protected from GMO contamination, which can only be done with testing.
My company already has a non-GMO program, so why participate in the Non-GMO Project?
There are two important reasons. First of all, Non-GMO Project Verification offers transparency to your customers about your GMO avoidance practices. By enrolling in the Project, you gain the outreach and education support of our non-profit and the hundreds of retailers who support and endorse the Project. Retailers and consumers are looking for the assurance of independent, third party validation of product claims, and when it comes to GMOs, it is the Non-GMO Project that offers this. The second reason, which is also extremely important, is that maintaining a supply of non-GMO ingredients in the face of growing contamination risk takes coordinated, cooperative efforts. The Non-GMO Project’s uniform, industry-wide Standard and Verification Program create essential efficiency for an industry where sharing of co-packers and ingredient suppliers is common. By engaging a critical mass of companies, from seed growers to manufacturers, we achieve the economy of scale that makes long-term non-GMO sourcing possible.
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