We are delighted to announce that Version 16 of the Non-GMO Project Standard has been officially released and can be found here — free of charge, at any time. We are tremendously proud of the hard work and expertise that has gone into v16, including the contributions of Project staff, professional stakeholders and industry experts from a diverse range of backgrounds. The common thread that unites the contributors is their shared commitment to a fair, just and sustainable non-GMO food system for all.
What is the Standard?
The Non-GMO Project Standard is the central guiding document for the Product Verification Program. It outlines the criteria each product must reach before it can wear the Butterfly seal. The Standard is also an evolving document, revised every two years by a committee of industry stakeholders with valuable insight into the food system. While new GMOs, testing methods and supply chains are developed, this Standard Committee works steadily to identify and adapt to the changing landscape. That means that you don't have to maintain an encyclopedic knowledge of GMOs on the market or in development — our team does that for you.
When you purchase a product that wears the Butterfly seal, you can be sure the product was thoroughly evaluated and is in compliance with North America's most trusted Standard for GMO avoidance.
Caterpillar to monarch: The evolution of the Standard
The Non-GMO Project Standard is developed through the collaboration between researchers, independent industry experts and Non-GMO Project Staff.
The Standard Revision process takes the better part of a calendar year to complete, beginning with an announcement and call for public comments. Anyone with a stake in how our food is grown and produced can submit a comment: We welcome input from producers of crops, seeds and livestock; retailers and manufacturers; as well as consumer advocates and independent researchers. After all, each of these groups holds unique insight into how GMOs affect their corner of the supply chain. While the formal term for these people is "stakeholder groups," that is an arms' length way of saying that anyone who is invested in the food system.
The Standard Committee reviews all of these comments, proposing changes to the Standard as necessary based on their areas of expertise and best thinking. The proposed changes and the reasoning behind them are then published on our website to ensure full transparency and public engagement with the process. This comment-analysis-evaluation process is repeated until a consensus is reached that the revised Standard reflects the best adaptations to concerns and developments in the field of genetic engineering.
Changes to the Standard might include:
- Crops that are added to or removed from the Monitored or High-Risk List.
- Changes to eligibility for Verification.
- Changes to reflect incoming labeling requirements, including the National Bioengineering Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS).
To support the transformation to a non-GMO future, requirements developed by the Standard Committee must be consistent, uniform, meaningful and achievable while adhering to international protocols for credible standard setting.
Ingredients for change: transparency, rigor and accountability
The Product Verification Program — which brings the Butterfly seal to food and personal care products on the shelves — operates on the principles of transparency, rigor and accountability.
The process of Standard revision occurs with full transparency to the public eye, through the solicitation and disclosure of public comments, the changes made to the Standard and the rationale behind those changes. The Standard Committee's collective expertise allows them to rigorously examine the supply chain from various vantage points.
Brands seeking verification for their products are held accountable through the work of independent, third-party technical administrators. In the coming weeks, we'll introduce you to the four technical administrators we work with, providing another level of transparency to the verification process. Reliable and independent technical administrators are the backbone of a rigorous certification system. They work to preserve the integrity of our most trusted clean food labels.
If you are concerned about our food system and looking to avoid GMOs, the Butterfly has you covered. You are invited to peruse the Standard for as much detail about product verification as you want: If you have a question or a comment, let us know and we'll work with you to get the answer. We believe that everyone has the right to decide whether or not to consume GMOs, so that you can make the best choices for yourself and your family. At the Non-GMO Project, our role is to make sure you have full confidence in what those choices mean — for people and the planet.