With farmers using gene-altered seeds to grow much of North America’s corn, soybeans, canola, and sugar, ingredients derived from biotech crops have become hard for food companies to avoid. But many makers of organic and natural foods are convinced that their credibility in the marketplace requires them to do so. Hundreds of products already claim on their packaging that they do not contain genetically modified ingredients, but with little consistency in the labeling and little assurance that the products have actually been tested. The new labeling campaign hopes to clear up such confusion.
Participants in the Non-GMO Project include major players in the organic and natural foods business, like Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods plans to place the project’s seal on hundreds of products it markets under its 365 store brand. Nature’s Path, a leading manufacturer of organic packaged foods like cereals, frozen waffles, and granola bars, has also embraced the initiative.
The project’s seal, a butterfly perched on two blades of grass in the form of a check mark, will begin appearing on packaged foods this fall. The project will not try to guarantee that foods are entirely free of genetically modified ingredients, but that manufacturers have followed procedures, including testing, to ensure that crucial ingredients contain no more than 0.9% of biotech material. That is the same threshold used in Europe, where labeling is required if products contain higher levels.
The New York Times article
According to The New York Times, the Non-GMO Project industry group has begun a campaign to test food products and label those that are largely free of biotech ingredients. Alarmed that genetically engineered crops may be finding their way into organic and natural foods, the group says the label will also reassure consumers about the food they are buying.