Non-GMO Project Moves to Expand Verification Capabilities

Grain ElevatorSales of Non-GMO Project Verified products have gone from $0 in 2010 (when the label launched) to over $3.5 billion just three years later. Consumer concern about GMOs and demand for non-GMO products has made “Non-GMO Project Verified” one of the most sought-after labels in the natural products industry, and the market is responding strongly. We’ve gone from 194 verification program enrollment inquiries in the second quarter of 2012 to 797 inquiries during the same period this year (that’s more than a 300% increase!) With this incredible success comes a couple of challenges:

  1. There is a growing incentive for competing, but weaker, programs and labels
  2. Existing systems have to evolve to accommodate unprecedented demand

In response to these challenges, in the spring of 2013 the Non-GMO Project Board of Directors decided that the time had come to train more certification bodies to be Technical Administrators (TA’s) for the Non-GMO Project’s Product Verification Program. The TA’s role 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. In the past, the Non-GMO Project had an exclusive contract with one TA, FoodChain Global Advisors. Going forward, we will establish an accreditation system that makes it possible for any qualified certification body to contract with us as a TA for the Non-GMO Project Product Verification Program.

We are engaging in this exciting transition gradually and mindfully, with a focus on ensuring quality and consistency. Our first new TA is NSF International, a global public health organization with nearly 70 years of food certification expertise. We have been working with NSF for the past six months to train their technical staff and support development of their quality system and infrastructure. NSF will begin beta testing this month, with a goal of being fully operational in 2014.

In August we began technical training for a third TA, and we look forward to partnering with additional certification bodies as we develop our accreditation system and identify qualified candidates. We are enthusiastic about this evolution in the Non-GMO Project. It will bring increased support and options to companies seeking verification, and it will fortify the Non-GMO Project’s role as the standard-bearer for Non-GMO verification in North America. Please keep an eye here for news and updates as we progress on this journey!

–Megan Westgate, Executive Director