Non-GMO Project Executive Director Megan Westgate is a strong advocate of informed consumer choice. She helped start the Project in 2006 after her work at Food Conspiracy Co-op in Tucson, AZ showed her firsthand how little information was available to help shoppers make choices about GMOs.
If you’re like most Americans, you want to know what’s in the food you’re eating and feeding to your family — and that includes GMOs (genetically modified organisms). While GMOs are labeled or banned in more than 60 other countries, in the U.S. and Canada they are unlabeled and are found in nearly 80% of processed food.
That’s where the Non-GMO Project comes in. Founded in 2007, “the Project” offers North America’s only third-party verification program and labeling for non-GMO food and products. In the absence of mandatory labeling, it’s a way for you to get the information you need to make choices about GMOs. With the help of retailers like Whole Foods Market®, you can easily find lots of Non-GMO Project Verified options when you shop.
Whether you are already committed to buying non-GMO, or you are just starting to learn about it, here are some key things to know about the Non-GMO Project and what it means when you see our little orange butterfly on a label.
- Mission Driven. The Non-GMO Project is a 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to preserve and build the non-GMO food supply, and to give eaters an informed choice. We believe that YOU are an essential ally in accomplishing this mission. Our primary strategy is to leverage the power of the marketplace. Every time you choose Non-GMO Project Verified products, you are voting with your dollars for a non-GMO food supply. The market is already responding — Non-GMO Project Verified has become the fastest growing claim in the natural products industry.
- Ongoing Ingredient Testing. People often assume that verification is based on pulling products here and there and testing them. Our requirements are actually MUCH more rigorous than that. The Non-GMO Project Standard requires ongoing testing of all major high-risk ingredients, like those made from corn, soy, canola, etc. In order to be used in a Verified product, an ingredient must first be tested. We use an Action Threshold of 0.9%, which lines up with standards in Europe. In addition to this ongoing testing, we also have a quarterly surveillance testing program just to double-check that everything is operating as it should be. You can read a summary or the full text of the 36-page Non-GMO Project Standard on our website.
- Consistency & Transparency. Third-party verification is an essential mechanism for making sure that product claims are meaningful. Because non-GMO claims are not regulated, it’s important to be aware that just because someone says something is non-GMO doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. When you see the Non-GMO Project Verified butterfly, you know that the product has been made in compliance with our strict standards. The requirements are consistent, and they are also transparent — anyone can look at our standard and see exactly what it takes to earn our label.
We firmly believe that you have the right to know what’s in your food so you can make choices about what you feed yourself and your family. The Non-GMO Project mission is succeeding because of committed consumers like you. So look for that little orange butterfly when you shop!
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