Understanding The Evolving Landscape of Non-GMO Certifications

Maybe July is a month fated for short reigns of young upstarts? History buffs may recall the reign of teenage Lady Jane Grey who became England’s Queen on July 10 1553, as her successor King Edward’s will mandated, but was deposed by Edward’s half-sister Mary (aka Bloody Mary) just nine days later on July 19, 1553. Poor Lady Jane was charged with treason for her actions and was beheaded several months later.

Vermont’s bold GMO labeling bill survived a few weeks longer than Queen Jane, without involving any beheadings, but it nonetheless likewise expired when President Obama signed into law bill S. 764 on Friday, July 29. Obama’s approval of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Bill or, as critics called it, the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, immediately nullified Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling bill, even though the USDA has two years to develop rules on the scope and implementation of the law.

While there is uncertainty about what products will ultimately require labeling, savvy consumers who dislike the federal GMO labeling bill’s obvious loopholes such as non-text disclosures consisting of company telephone numbers, websites and QR codes, and a narrow definition of genetic engineering, have already vowed to keep purchasing non-GMO certified products.  It seems clear that even if a product isn’t ‘labeled’ as containing GMOs under this new federal law, that doesn’t mean it is GMO-free or non-GMO in comparison with other definitions and standards found in third-party non-GMO certification programs.  I believe more companies will enroll in these types of programs to provide verified transparency to label-conscious consumers.

Although most people aware of the GMO labeling issue know about the Non-GMO Project Product Verification Program that allows verified products to display the butterfly logo, they may not know about other available non-GMO certification programs.  Over the past few months, I have researched all of the non-GMO/GE certification programs currently available in the U.S. and compiled my findings into a comprehensive report describing and comparing each one.  I wanted to provide insight for newcomers and veterans alike on the different non-GMO certification programs and standards that abound in this ever-changing landscape.

I profile eight different programs in the report, including the NGP PVP and NSF’s True North Non-GMO Protocol, that will soon be available for purchase as a pdf on my website www.KnowGMOs.com.  I am putting the finishing touches on this publication (and trying to come up with a catchy title for it!) and I will provide free updated copies of the report as new versions of program standards are released. Please send me your contact information if you would like to receive an email alert once I have dotted all my i’s and crossed all my t’s!

My email:  karin.tobin@gmail.com

Take Care and Be Well!

– Karin