The Non-GMO Project was created to provide a trustworthy and rigorous way to avoid GMOs in food and personal care products. Simply put, the Project was created to serve you and millions of people like you. We serve everyone who grows, makes, buys, sells and eats food in the United States and Canada.
By maintaining the Non-GMO Project Standard and verifying products that are in compliance, our nonprofit organization serves the public and simultaneously protects the non-GMO food supply. Win-win.
Recently, the Non-GMO Project partnered with SPINS, a data and insight company in the natural and organic space, to assess how well the Butterfly was working for shoppers and brands. The report analyzes sales information for products that make a non-GMO claim.
The results were striking.
"Self-made claims aren't enough."
SPINS analyzed consumer data from the two year period between 2019 to 2021. The data compared Non-GMO Project Verified product sales with products with other certifications, self-made claims or no GMO claims at all.
We found that products with the Butterfly grew in popularity faster than comparable claims. Non-GMO Project Verified products showed more sales growth than Certified Organic or self-made non-GMO claims. A self-made GMO claim is when a product is labeled "Made without GMOs" or something similar but lacks an independent certification. When a brand makes its own non-GMO claim, it asks consumers to trust that claim without any evidence. For example, a self-made claim doesn't identify how ingredients are sourced or tracked, whether they are tested or how contamination is handled. There is no enforcement mechanism for violating the rules because there are no rules.
Both Non-GMO Project verification and USDA Organic certification are third-party certifications. Third-party certification means independent experts are responsible for evaluating products that apply for certification. Relying on independent, third-party experts upholds the certification's integrity by reducing conflicts of interest.
Clearly, eaters look for the Butterfly for non-GMO choices because they trust the value it provides.
Read more about third-party certification here.
Why do eaters look for the Butterfly?
People opt for Non-GMO Project Verified products for many different reasons. Some folks are concerned about corporations gaining control of the food system through restrictive patents, and others are motivated by the negative environmental impact of GMO agriculture. At the end of the day, the Butterfly helps you make a choice that aligns with your priorities and values.
Here are some of the ways Non-GMO Project verification can help you:
- Avoid greenwashing — Sustainability is more important than ever, but how can you tell which labels or claims have substance? The Butterfly relies on third-party certification to back up its mark, making it a clean food label you can trust.
- Make more natural choices — Non-GMO Project Verified products can help you make more natural choices, especially when shopping in the refrigerated or frozen food aisle.
- Shop with confidence — An estimated 70-80% of processed foods contain GMOs. With that saturation level, avoiding GMOs without a trustworthy certification is next to impossible.
The Butterfly means you don't need a comprehensive knowledge of GMOs and their derivatives. We do that work for you, and third-party certifiers ensure Verified products meet the Non-GMO Project Standard.
Choosing a better food system
While working with SPINS to analyze sales data, we noticed that products with the Butterfly saw a steeper rise in sales when compared with USDA Certified Organic products. Perhaps the Butterfly's success relates to the simplicity of the mark and the transparency of what it stands for — while the National Organic Program lists GMOs under "excluded methods," it does not require testing or determine action thresholds to enforce the exclusion. The phrase "organic is always non-GMO" is true in principle but not always in practice.
We're delighted that the most popular products had both certifications, Non-GMO Project Verified and USDA Organic. We are great supporters of the organic movement and consider dual certification the gold standard of clean labels. With new GMOs entering the supply chain, the Butterfly is more important than ever.
The Non-GMO Project is proud to be a part of the Regenerate America campaign, working with Kiss the Ground and a diverse coalition of farmers, businesses, nonprofits and concerned citizens working to make regenerative agriculture the cornerstone of the 2023 Farm Bill. Together, we can lay the foundations of a healthy and sustainable food system for future generations.
Currently, America's agriculture system relies on industrial-style production that prioritizes efficiency at the expense of healthy and resilient landscapes. Racialized and minority communities have borne disproportionate burdens caused by our dysfunctional food system. Supporting equitable access to the resources young and underserved farmers need to get a foothold is not only a boon to the agricultural landscape. It is also an opportunity to begin the hard work of healing injustice, violence and racism.
Squeezing more commodities from each acre is an old way of thinking. The inescapable truth is that farmers grow much more than this crop or that crop. Farmland, ranchland, silvopasture and agroforestry acreage can support a diverse cast of wildlife, insect life and microorganisms that operate in symbiosis to recycle nutrients, keep pests under control and ultimately help to grow next year's bounty. A system that starves all those other creatures will eventually fail to produce for us.
Under non-regenerative practices, our topsoil — the nutrient-dense uppermost layer of soil — is being depleted 10 times faster than it can be replenished. World Food Prize Laureate Rattan Lal likens soil to a bank account — you cannot withdraw more than you put in. "Anything that we take out of the soil, we must replace. If [we] do not replace it, soil will not produce." If we continue to degrade our soils without regeneration, we usher in a future of food insecurity and economic uncertainty.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
What does a regenerative future look like?
By changing how we grow our food, agriculture can become a crucial driver for social justice, income equality, environmental restoration, and resilience. Committing ourselves to rebuilding healthy soils doesn't just fill up our metaphorical bank account — it also benefits actual bank accounts.
The Farm Bill is one of the most potent tools shaping American agriculture. It touches every single American by determining what crops are grown and how. Provisions for conservation, insurance and rural investment have far-reaching economic and environmental consequences. A new Farm Bill is passed every 5-7 years — meaning this could be the last iteration this decade. These years mark our final chance to reshape the food system before a critical window to act on climate change closes. The path we choose now could very well determine the health and happiness of future generations.
Our regenerative future is bright, with cascading benefits across communities:
- Regenerated soils An estimated 95% of our food comes from soil. Rich soil teeming with nutrients, minerals and microorganisms can grow healthier and hardier crops while protecting against climate extremes such as drought and heat.
- Regenerated economics Investing in rural livelihoods, supporting equitable access to the resources young and underserved farmers need, and ensuring that food insecure families have enough to eat creates a ripple of positive economic impacts.
- Regenerated communities As rural communities across America struggle to survive, residents move to urban centers for opportunities. Family-owned farmland is sold to conglomerates and corporations that move even further from regenerative ideals. Many marginalized and disenfranchised communities hold knowledge that is essential to sustainable stewardship of dynamic food systems.
- Regenerated health A regenerative food system goes far beyond a handful of commodity crops, let alone genetically modified versions of those crops! A regenerative system celebrates the diversity of our genetic inheritance, integrating a variety of crops and livestock into resilient farming systems while nourishing Americans.
If we act with urgency and boldness, we can change the lives of millions of Americans while building the framework for a healthier, more equitable world. Regenerating our soil means rebuilding a future for ourselves, our children, and countless other plants, animals and other life forms.
We stand at the crossroads. We can choose to build resilience through regenerative practices — but only if we act together!
Learn more about the Regenerate America campaign at RegenerateAmerica.com.