The Non-GMO Project is North America's most rigorous certification for GMO avoidance. Our Standard requires ingredient tracing, segregation and testing of major ingredients that are high risk for being GMO.
Testing is essential for managing the risks posed by novel organisms, including potential environmental harm and economic impacts. Just as importantly, testing for the presence of GMOs supports your right to know how your food was made.
We believe everyone has the right to choose whether or not to consume GMOs.
Testing and documentation
To earn the Butterfly logo, verified products must comply with the Non-GMO Project Standard. The Standard requires testing of ingredients that are:
- Major ingredients (making up 5% or more of the finished product)
- Considered high-risk for being GMO
- Testable (tests for GMOs are commercially available)
However, not all GMOs have commercially available tests (we refer to these as "nontestable" ingredients). In the case of nontestable, high-risk major ingredients, the Standard requires comprehensive and legally-binding affidavits. We also work to expand testing capabilities for new GMOs.
"Making the invisible visible."
Some GMO developers claim that GMOs made through gene editing are the same as crops produced by traditional cross-breeding, except they are created more quickly. Thanks to emerging testing capabilities, we know that's not true. Nontestable GMOs are simply GMOs for which a test has not yet been developed — and the Non-GMO Project is working with a coalition of scientists, nonprofits and retailers to change that.
Here's one example of the coalition at work: In 2014, the first gene-edited crop, herbicide-tolerant SU canola, entered the market. Because gene-edited crops don't necessarily incorporate DNA from foreign organisms, the SU canola was nontestable when it was released. So the Non-GMO Project contributed funding toward the Health Research Institute's work developing a reliable test.
The resulting test — freely available to labs worldwide since 2020 — counteracts the narrative that gene editing produces "nature identical" crops. According to Health Research Institute chief scientist Dr. John Fagan, "the same method used to test for every GMO for the past 20 years can be used for gene-edited GMOs" if information about the changes made to the crop is available.
Our commitment to quality
In the meantime, the Project conducts quality assurance and surveillance testing of verified products to protect the integrity of the Butterfly. The quality assurance team goes incognito to purchase samples of Non-GMO Project Verified products from suppliers across North America and sends the products to accredited laboratories for testing. Surveillance testing helps us to monitor and address contamination issues or supply chain disruption.
The Non-GMO Project protects your right to choose in many ways, including testing, ingredient tracing, product surveillance and developing tests to identify new GMOs. The Butterfly is more than Verified products and the most rigorous certification in North America – it’s also a pathway toward a sustainable, non-GMO food supply for all.