cation. Traceability is one of the core requirements of the Non-GMO
Project verification. Companies such as Nature’s Path, whose products
are all certified organic, have already established traceability with organic record-keeping. “We can
just copy the audit trail for organic certification and
use it in the non-
Falck said. In addition, organic inspections can be
conducted at the same
time as non-GMO inspections to increase
efficiency and decrease
“A lot of the foundation
work (for non-GMO verification) is already done by organic practices,” said Michael Potter, president of Eden Foods, another Non-GMO Project participant.
Several organic companies are already going
through Non-GMO verification and testing.
Unlike organic certification, which is mandatory for companies
wanting to label their products “organic,” the Non-GMO Project is a
Creating a Non-GMO Supply Chain
Getting ingredient suppliers involved in the non-GMO verification
s critical. “If suppliers don’t work with you, you can’t get the job
done,” Potter said.
Ingredient suppliers to Nature’s Path can either enroll their own
products in the non-GMO verification or supply Nature’s
Path with GMO test results for
In the case of highly
processed ingredients such as
lecithin or oils where the genetically modified DNA is no
longer present, Nature’s Path
requires that suppliers provide
GMO test results on raw materials, such as soybeans, used to
make the ingredient.
Potter said that the more
suppliers who participate in
the Non-GMO Project, the
easier it will be for everyone in
the industry to verify that their
products are non-GMO. For
example, once a source of
seed or an ingredient is verified non-GMO for one processor, other processors would be
The Pros and Cons of Testing Or
able to access the same source.
“In the long-term, we hope the
Non-GMO Project becomes as popular as organic and that more farmers,
suppliers and processors participate,”
Falck said. “Success comes through
the participation of everyone.”
Megan Thompson, executive director of the Non-GMO Project, said
the Project is multi-faceted, working
at all levels of food production, from
helping create an independent supply of non-GMO seed to providing
consumers with non-GMO products.
Nature’s Path is putting 65 products through non-GMO verification
and aims to complete the process by
this October. The verification lasts for
one year and is renewed every year
following successful completion of annual audits.
Once verified, companies can put
he Non-GMO Project Verified seal
on their products. Falck says Nature’s
Path may be one of the first companies to use the seal.
As more companies participate,
he Non-GMO Project continues to
improve its processes. Another Non-
ganics for GMOs
Should organic crops and foods be tested for GMOs? There is debate both for and
Dag Falck, organic program manager at Nature’s Path, was initially concerned that the
use of GMO testing would move organic from a process-based certification to one based
on testing end products. But he gradually began to understand the need for testing. In
contrast to the impact of pesticide residues on organic crops, which can be detected by
the presence of dead or damaged plants, GMO contamination can be difficult to see.
“Without testing we cannot ‘see’ the contamination, and are left guessing if our efforts to
remain GMO-free are effective or not,” he says.
Mark Lipson, policy program director, Organic Farming Research Foundation, argues
against mandatory GMO testing in organic production. “There is no statutory basis for a
testing requirement, and the ‘excluded methods’ provision of the NOP regulation does
not allow for penalizing a producer in the case of inadvertent contamination. Producers
would, however, be penalized in the marketplace, regardless of how the contamination
occurred,” he says.
Kathleen Delate, associate professor-organic crop specialist at Iowa State University,
says, “GMO testing is a function of private contracts and not of the National Organic Program, so it would be very difficult to have any testing mandated by the government, let
alone have sufficient resources to police the testing.”
However, former National Organic Standards Board chairman Jim Riddle says a GMO
threshold in organics, which would require testing, is needed to help organic farmers seek
legal remedies for losses suffered due to GMO contamination.