Animal-Derived Ingredients

The Non-GMO Project Standard considers animal-derived ingredients as high-risk inputs due to the prevalence of GMOs in animal feed. Most of the corn, soy, and canola grown in North America is genetically modified and ends up in animal feed 1,2,3.

Though traces of genetically modified material can be detected in animal ingredients 4, it is not the most reliable method for identifying or quantifying GMO content. Therefore, for ingredients such as meat, dairy, eggs, and honey, the standard focuses the evaluation on the animal feed. The feed does not need to be Non-GMO Project Verified, as long as it meets our requirements (though if it is verified, that certainly speeds up the verification process).

Animals must eat a non-GMO diet:

  • Meat animals (other than Poultry): starting at birth
  • Poultry: starting from second day after hatching
  • Dairy animals and laying hens: 30 days prior to verification and continuously thereafter
  • Honey and other bee products: Documentation is required showing that the 4-mile radius surrounding the beehives is free from all high-risk commercial agriculture, similar to organic requirements. Any supplemental feed must also comply with the standard.

Other important notes about animal products:

  • Veterinary inputs such as vaccines may be excluded from evaluation.
  • Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), also called recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), is not allowed for dairy production.
  1. “USDA ERS – Corn.” USDA ERS – Corn. United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, n.d. Web.
  2. “U.S. Domestic Corn Use Table.” USDA Economic Research Service, n.d. Web.
  3. “Soybeans & Oil Crops.” USDA ERS. United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, n.d. Web.
  4. Agodi, Antonella, Martina Barchitta, Agata Grillo, and Salvatore Sciacca. “Detection of Genetically Modified DNA Sequences in Milk from The Italian Market.” International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health 209.1 (2006): 81-88. Web.