NonGMO Project GMO food verification logo orange

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:

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.

Did you know plant-based foods are one of the fastest-growing grocery categories? Shoppers are picking more plant-based options than ever before. As the plant-based category grows, so does biotechnology's interest in it. 

Traditional, transgenic GMOs — including herbicide tolerant soybeans and corn engineered to create its own pesticide — have threatened the plant-based movement since they first entered the market in the 1990s. More recently, ingredients made through new GMO techniques such as gene editing and synthetic biology are popping up in some plant-based options — this infographic will show you where.

But, there is hope! For each product made with new GMOs, there is a wealth of non-GMO and organic options. The Non-GMO Project is proud to partner with more than 300 brands with Verified plant-based options. 

Here are just a few of the companies embracing non-GMO innovation to make delicious and natural plant-based products. Enjoy!

Mouthwatering meat alternatives

Seattle-based Field Roast has been making delicious plant-based "loaves" since 1997, proving that plant-based products don't follow trends, they start them. Field Roast even journeyed into the natural habitat of some of America's most passionate hot dog consumers: stadiums and ballparks. 

Good Catch offers a fresh plant-based take on seafood. The company's goal? To raise awareness of overfishing and reduce pressure on the world's oceans while delivering delicious plant-based options. In a few short years, their product range has grown to include crab cakes, salmon, tuna, fish sticks and fish burgers — all crafted from a magic blend of six different types of legumes. 

Delectable Dairy Replacements

For the perfect addition to your morning coffee or cereal, Califia Farms has a plant-based option for every dairy need. From take-home plant-based milks and creamers to barista-ready blends that froth just like the real thing. There's even a range of creams suitable for cooking, to keep your favorite recipes animal-free.

Misha’s Kind Foods makes real cheeses and spreads "in the traditional way — just without the dairy." This Black-owned company is backed by some serious star power. Jay-Z and Chris Paul are both investors and Lizzo brought one of her favorite recipes made with Misha's ricotta to her 25.3 million Tik Tok followers. 

Powerful proteins

Puris is a family-owned company in search of the perfect protein. Through cutting edge non-GMO crop genetics, Puris has developed high-yield, disease-resistance legumes and pulses — and a compelling vision for the future. They take great pride in working with farmers to ensure regenerative farming doesn't cost the farm or the earth. 

…and for dessert?

For scrumptious sweets and tasty treats without animal-derived ingredients or GMOs, Divvies goes the extra mile, providing desserts free from major allergens such as peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and dairy. The company's name reflects their philosophy of creating a product for everyone to enjoy and share. From the frozen foods aisle, Nada Moo dairy-free ice cream is made with organic coconut milk. It's Non-GMO Project Verified, gluten-free, vegan and fair trade certified. Nada Moo is also a certified B Corp, proudly considering the impacts of all their business decisions on people, communities and the environment. 

The original plant-based foods are, of course, plants. For thousands of years, humans have been enjoying fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, legumes and nuts, and combining them to create plant-based milks and patties. The brands highlighted here are some of the latest innovations in the plant-based space — but there are many more to explore. Visit our Verified Product listings to find more excellent plant-based options, and stay tuned for more planet-friendly plant-based foods!

During the last few years, grocery shopping has gone from being a reasonably predictable chore to something more like a roller coaster ride. From pandemic-induced pantry stocking, supply chain shortages and historic inflation, many of us have one eye on our shopping cart and the other on our pocketbooks.

With the rising cost of groceries affecting nearly every product category, lots of people are trying to trim their grocery bills. Which made us wonder: Can we still shop our values while balancing our finances? Is it still possible to "vote with our dollars" if those dollars don't go as far as they did a year ago? 

Choosing Non-GMO Project Verified products is the most impactful way you can help grow the non-GMO food supply, and we are grateful for your support. To make your non-GMO commitment easier, we created the definitive guide to which products have the greatest impact on the non-GMO food supply and which are most resistant to inflation. Looking for the Butterfly where these categories overlap can help those dollars — and votes! — go further.

Non-GMO for omnivores and vegetarians alike

While GMOs show up in virtually every aisle in the grocery store, there are a few product categories that are uniquely affected. 

For example, animal-derived foods (meat, poultry, eggs and dairy) carry a lot of weight because most genetically modified corn and soy ends up in animal feed. Non-GMO Project Verified animal-derived products come from livestock that received non-GMO rations. When you choose Non-GMO Project Verified animal-derived products, you're supporting a supply chain that doesn't rely on GMOs. 

Price increases haven't hit all product categories equally, as world events impact different supply chain sectors in unique ways. The poultry industry has seen sharp increases because of avian influenza outbreaks. The average price of chicken rose 23.9% in the past year and eggs have gone up a staggering 64.9%, according to the Consumer Price Index. Meanwhile, beef has shown more modest price increases and the price of bacon is starting to trend down. 

The dairy aisle is another excellent place to go non-GMO. Dairy cows producing Verified milk receive non-GMO feed, and the Butterfly also helps you avoid genetically engineered "non-animal" dairy proteins made through synthetic biology techniques. Non-animal dairy products include synthetic milk, ice cream, cheese spread, desserts and synthetic egg replacements, but the technology is rapidly expanding. 

Synbio Milk Is a Dud

Also, vegans and vegetarians rely on Non-GMO Project verification to access natural plant-based dairy replacements and steer clear of products made from GMOs such as soy.

Cereals, bakery products and sweets

Products made from grains, particularly grains considered high-risk for being GMOs, are another good place to go non-GMO. More than 92% of corn grown in the U.S. is GMO, and genetically modified wheat is also entering the supply chain right as non-GMO wheat production in "the breadbasket of Europe'' is disrupted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. So far, price increases in cereals, bread and other bakery products have been relatively modest.

While we don't recommend sweets as the main feature of your diet, it's worth looking for the Butterfly when you decide to indulge. Many processed and sweetened foods contain sugar from genetically modified sugar beets or corn syrup from genetically modified corn, and genetically modified sugarcane cultivation is also expanding in Brazil

The produce section can provide some of the healthiest options for your body and bank account. There are only a small number of genetically modified fruits and vegetables* on the market, leaving you with many tasty and nutritious options. 

If the last few years are anything to go by, the future could bring new surprises and supply chain impacts. The future will almost definitely bring new GMOs onto the market, which is why our dedicated research team is tracking developments in real-time so we can keep you informed, too. 

As always, we work to make it easier for you to make non-GMO choices, and with this article, to help your dollar — and the "vote" that goes with it — go further at the grocery store. 

*See the Non-GMO Project Standard High-Risk List for particular items.

At the Non-GMO Project, we believe everyone has the right to know what's in their food and deserves access to non-GMO choices. For the past 15 years, we've protected that right with the most trustworthy, rigorous certification in North America for GMO avoidance. 

With new and experimental GMOs entering the food supply unlabeled and unregulated, our work is more important than ever. But why does protecting your right to choose matter to you? What's at stake when we don't have clearly labeled, Non-GMO Project Verified choices?

Food is essential

Food is more than just the fuel we use to get our bodies from point A to point B. It's indispensable to our very existence and elemental to our experience as human beings. Food is a part of our traditions. Our cultural and social identities are intertwined with our food choices — and choices is the key word here.

The choices we make have consequences. When exercised collectively, their power grows. When we vote with our dollars we can help move the food system towards a nourishing, sustainable model that truly supports both people and the planet. And once we're paying attention to the kind of food system we want, we wake up to the critical need for regenerative practices, fair working conditions for producers and workers and the shift toward clean energy.

As our awareness about food grows, so does our realization of interconnectedness with our living environment.

The other label

The Butterfly label is second to none in rigor and transparency for GMO avoidance. Since 2007, the Non-GMO Project has monitored genetic engineering developments to preserve and build the non-GMO food supply. Genetic engineering is a rapidly evolving field — new GMOs aren't regulated or labeled by government agencies in the same way as traditional GMOs that contain DNA from other species. Most consumers want clear, meaningful and timely labeling of GMOs. 

On January 1, 2022, the new federal bioengineered (BE) food labeling law went into full effect. The law was created in part because of public demand. However, the BE labeling law leaves out many common products made with GMOs. That means shoppers using BE disclosure labels to guide their choices don't have all the information they need. 

Here are some of the products the BE label misses, and the Butterfly label catches:

For more information on the BE labeling law, check out What You Need To Know About Bioengineered (BE) Food Labeling.

Protecting your right to know and more

GMOs entered the food supply so discreetly that many people in the natural foods industry worried non-GMO resources such as organic seeds would be lost. In fact, that concern is part of what motivated Non-GMO Project founder and executive director, Megan Westgate. To this day, GMO contamination remains a major concern. When contamination events happen, we lose the genetic diversity of plant species that were cared for by our ancestors for millennia. The Non-GMO Project's segregation and testing requirements for high risk crops help to protect the non-GMO food supply, which in turn protects our entire food and seed supply. In the face of disruptions and extreme weather events, diversity means resilience. 

As we live through the uncertainties brought by climate change, pandemic impacts and supply chain disruption, we become more aware of how interconnected our global systems truly are. Consumer concern has expanded. There is a growing awareness that our choices have implications beyond our immediate welfare. 

Broadening our sphere of our concern is a good thing. That's how empathy grows, powerful coalitions are formed, and the systemic change we need so desperately becomes possible. 

Our connectedness is our strength — and every butterfly effect starts with the Butterfly.

Plant-based foods are having a renaissance.

While staples such as veggie burgers and soy milk have been around for decades, we're witnessing a tsunami of innovative products that can romance the taste buds of vegans and omnivores, vegetarians and flexitarians. 

Recent converts to the plant-based craze credit two reasons for their choice: They want to boost their health and save the planet. 

The Butterfly can help you choose the right products, whether the benefits you want are personal, planetary or both.

Plant-based plus for a healthy planet

Most animal-derived products such as meat, eggs and dairy come from intensive, industrial-style livestock operations that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, polluted air and water and deforestation in the Amazon. 

Choosing plant-based foods reduces harmful environmental impacts, and it makes better use of resources. Growing crops for livestock instead of directly feeding people costs us a lot of calories. Plant-based food expert Bruce Friedrich of the Good Food Institute memorably compared consuming a serving of chicken to tossing eight servings of pasta in the trash for each one that we eat. 

That's some seriously unsustainable spaghetti.

So, eating plant-based products is promising, but we still need to watch the downstream effects of crop production, including pesticide use and biodiversity impacts. Carefully choosing which crops we grow — and how we grow them — is part of building a sustainable food system.

For example, soy is a prominent player in many plant-based meat alternatives. Most of the soy grown in the U.S. is genetically modified for herbicide tolerance, meaning it resists weed killers such as glyphosate. The adoption of herbicide-tolerant GMOs has led to a 15-fold increase in glyphosate since the 1990s. Glyphosate is so widely used that even the weeds are used to it — and that's a massive problem for farmers.

So-called "superweeds" are common weeds that have developed immunity to weed killers. They are the nearly unstoppable foes of agriculture. Desperate farmers are turning to ever more toxic herbicides to get ahead of them. Glyphosate can't kill superweeds, so chemical companies are trying dicamba — and the results are catastrophic. Dicamba is a highly volatile herbicide famous for drifting off-target and inflicting miles of collateral damage. In 2017 alone, dicamba drift destroyed an estimated 3.6 million acres of crops — and the devastation has continued with each successive planting season.

Adopting a plant-based diet can go a long way toward a sustainable food system. Let's not let GMOs and the chemicals that go with them undermine our best efforts. Regenerative food systems are non-GMO.

Soy, synbio and sizzle

Shoppers are also choosing plant-based foods to support their own health. Studies link red and processed meat consumption to increased heart disease, diabetes, and cancer risks. But not all plant-based options are created equal: The risk-to-benefit ratio changes dramatically depending on how products are made.

Take soy, for example. Unprocessed soybeans are high in protein, vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. But the keyword here is "unprocessed." Even products that start with the healthiest soybeans can lose much of their nutrition during processing. Highly processed plant-based foods can be healthier than meat without being exactly healthy.

Innovative plant-based products can mimic the taste and texture of animal-derived products. That's part of the reason their popularity is growing. But making plant-based products more like animal-derived ones is a tricky business. Animal products contain unique fats and proteins — that's what makes steaks sizzle and egg whites form stiff peaks — and purely plant-based products rarely behave the same. As one biotech company puts it, "Getting almond and other alt-milks to foam is about as effective as trying to juice a potato." 

Some brands are turning to biotechnology to recreate plant-based options that taste, feel and act like animal-derived. However, some of these techniques could have health implications. Scientists can create "bio-identical" milk proteins (milk without the cow) or animal-identical fat (fats without the animal) using synthetic biology ("synbio") techniques. And a "bio-identical" product raises questions for the health-conscious consumer: Do synbio compounds carry the same health risks as the animal products they mimic? Would a soy-based burger with synbio animal fat reintroduce the health risks you're trying to avoid?

While synbio animal fats aren't yet commercially available, some frozen desserts on the market contain non-animal dairy proteins. These dairy proteins don't come from animals, but they contain lactose and have the same potential for allergic reactions as natural dairy. 

As plant-based foods and biotechnology-based additives mingle, the blurred line can make it harder for you to choose the products you truly want.

That's where we come in. Luckily, our dedicated research team tracks the latest products and emerging biotechnology techniques. The Non-GMO Project Standard prohibits those sneaky synbio ingredients.

We believe everyone has the right to know what's in their food and make an informed choice about whether or not to consume GMOs. When you choose plant-based foods, the Butterfly helps you pick a product that meets your expectations.

The Non-GMO Project protects your right to choose and safeguards the integrity of your choices through clear labeling and natural products.

After all, the decisions you make to care for yourself and the planet are your chance to reform the food system. You exercise that power every time you buy groceries or sit down for a meal.

Make it count.

The Bioengineered (BE) Food label is part of the new federal law that identifies some  — but not all — products made with GMO ingredients. The law came into full effect in the United States on January 1, 2022, following years of grassroots organizing, state actions and federal counteractions. 

The GMO-labeling movement that gave rise to the BE food label has seen overwhelming public support: 88% of Americans agree GMOs should be labeled. However, the BE label doesn't provide the clarity Americans deserve.

For 15 years, the Non-GMO Project has worked to protect and expand the non-GMO supply chain. The BE labeling law's limitations make the importance of a transparent and equitable food system obvious while emphasizing how nonprofits such as the Non-GMO Project can continue to serve the public interest.

The best way to avoid GMOs is still the Butterfly

Remember that poll we mentioned, in which 88% of shoppers agreed GMOs should be labeled? Imagine the same poll with slightly different wording. Instead of asking if GMOs should be labeled, what if pollsters asked if bioengineered foods should be labeled? With that question, we could expect a much different result. Many people — maybe even a good chunk of that 88% — would throw up their hands and say, "What's a bioengineered food?" 

That's one example of how the phrasing of a question can shape the response — just like the design or words displayed on a label directly impact the person trying to understand it. 

The term "bioengineered" is unfamiliar to most of us. By using obscure language instead of widely-understood terms like "GMO" or "genetic engineering," the BE label leaves the average shopper in the dark.

Through exemptions and loopholes, the law excludes most products made with GMOs, including:

By focusing on detection rather than transparency, the BE labeling law is unlikely to impact GMO agriculture at all. Under the BE law, most GMOs remain hidden from the person buying them. For example, someone looking for sugar, canola oil or ground beef wouldn't be aware that their purchase likely supports GMO agriculture.

Meanwhile, GMO agriculture goes hand-in-hand with destructive practices, including the overuse of pesticides and the corporate consolidation that has put 60% of the world's seed supply in the hands of just four mega-corporations. Both of these are good reasons why someone might want to avoid GMOs, but the BE label doesn't address either. That's why shoppers that want a more sustainable and equitable food system need to look for the Butterfly, not the BE label.

Are new GMOs taking over?

When the Non-GMO Project began in 2006, a few agri-chemical corporations dominated the GMO landscape with commodity crops. But the limited market had a massive reach. Today, those crops cover hundreds of millions of acres. We continue to protect non-GMO choices in major commodities while also addressing new techniques that are changing the biotechnology landscape faster than anyone imagined possible.

"New GMOs" are products made from novel genetic engineering techniques such as gene editing or synthetic biology ("synbio"). New GMOs are entering the market at an alarming rate, and they pose a unique threat to the supply chain because they are largely unlabeled (the BE label doesn't cover most new GMOs) and unregulated. Some new GMOs are even marketed as "natural" or "non-GMO"!

Clean labels like the Butterfly must simultaneously protect the non-GMO supply of commodity crops while also working against new GMOs. That's why we employ a dedicated research team that gathers information on companies, products and technology. The Non-GMO Project is the only independent nonprofit in North America that monitors existing and emerging GMOs and the companies that make them. 

Our researchers have recently seen a dramatic increase in the number of biotech companies creating new GMOs. They are currently following more than 460 companies — a nearly 300% increase in only five years. "That number just keeps getting higher," says Executive Director Megan Westgate. "Also, the purposes for these companies have broadened." 

"Animals are being engineered with human DNA for medical purposes, but then that meat is being approved for human consumption," Westgate explains. Synbio "heme" (the blood-like substance that gives the Impossible Burger its meaty taste) was sold to consumers before the FDA determined its safety. "Goats are being engineered to produce spider silk for cosmetics — and these examples really are just the tip of the iceberg."

Shoppers want non-GMO choices — and more!

GMOs aren't the only thing that's changing. Consumer priorities are shifting as well. Today's shoppers recognize the importance of the food supply and the need for systemic change. Megan Westgate shares her observations: "It's no longer just about knowing what's in their food," she says. "Consumer concerns regarding GMOs extend to farmers' rights, food security, social equity and the loss of biodiversity." 

At the Non-GMO Project, our commitment to building and protecting the non-GMO food supply is unwavering. We protect your right to choose whether or not to buy and consume genetically engineered food. Together, we can transform our broken food supply into a regenerative system that serves everyone.

Have you seen a new label at the grocery store?

Bioengineered label

The new federal Bioengineered (BE) Food labeling law went into effect on January 1, 2022. Under the law, BE disclosures are now mandatory on certain products made with GMOs. However, due to exemptions and a limited definition of a "bioengineered food," many products made with GMOs will not require disclosures. 

How well does this law ultimately work for shoppers? Does it provide meaningful and consistent labeling of products made with biotechnology? Most importantly, what's the best way for you to keep GMOs out of your shopping cart?

We're here with the practical advice you need to navigate a new food label — plus an update on the BE law's ongoing challenges.

New BE label leaves shoppers in the dark

Most people are familiar with terms like "genetically modified organism" and "genetic engineering." Natural foods advocates (including staff at the Non-GMO Project) have been working for decades to raise awareness of GMOs in the food system. 

The term "bioengineered," on the other hand, is new and enigmatic — and not in a good way.

Compared with the Non-GMO Project Standard's definition of GMO, "bioengineered" is a narrow and exclusive term. The difference between the two excludes many products that are made with GMOs from requiring a BE label. 

Some of the products that fall into the gap include:

The absence of a BE disclosure does not mean a product is non-GMO. Ultimately, the labeling scheme leaves out many products shoppers seek to avoid.

The many faces of BE disclosure

Exemptions and loopholes aside, what will that label look like on products that must disclose bioengineered ingredients? Brands and manufacturers have a range of options to choose from. 

A BE disclosure may appear as:

Inconsistent labeling is confusing to shoppers, and digital disclosures such as QR codes discriminate against people who don't have smartphones or reliable wifi access (rural communities, people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, etc). 

The law is also rolling out amid ongoing supply chain issues which, Food Navigator reports, continue to complicate packaging and ingredient sourcing for many brands. It's unclear how effective enforcement of the law will be, as USDA investigations rely on consumer complaints to identify violations. Meanwhile, the Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit advocacy group, is suing the USDA, arguing that the regulation violates existing statutes and is ultimately unlawful. 

Looking to avoid GMOs? Look for the Butterfly!

At the Non-GMO Project, we believe everyone has the right to know what's in their food, and to make an informed decision about whether or not to consume GMOs. Labeling must be accessible if it is to be effective. Information should be informative.

In the U.S., nearly half of all shoppers try to avoid GMOs*, and the new BE label doesn't provide the certainty they need at the grocery store. For that, shoppers look for the Butterfly, the symbol of North America's most rigorous and trustworthy certification for GMO avoidance. 

The Non-GMO Project monitors new technologies as they emerge in the biotech industry. Our Standard is regularly revised to make sure your interests are served when you buy Verified products. 

You know the label and you know what it stands for. Together, we can grow the non-GMO food supply, ensuring prosperity and biodiversity for generations to come.

One butterfly at a time.

*Source: Organic and Natural Report Ⓒ 2018, The Hartman Group, Inc.

magnifiercrossarrow-right linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram