illustration of technical administrators

More people than ever before are looking carefully at the products they bring home to their families. Considering all the information on a package, the average shopper would need to pull up a stool and make a day of it. Certifications and clean food labels like the Non-GMO Project Butterfly offer a valuable shortcut. So, what does the Non-GMO Project Butterfly seal represent and how do we ensure its integrity? We do that by working with teams of independent, third-party verifiers who evaluate every product that applies for our Verification. This third-party verification is what makes the Butterfly seal the most reliable label for non-GMO food and products.

We’re often asked what the difference is between the Non-GMO Project Verified seal and other, self-made claims like “GMO-free” or “No GMOs.” For a label to be meaningful, it needs to meet these requirements:

  • Transparent and easily accessible standards.
  • Regular revision to ensure the standards reflect the latest developments in the field.
  • An independent, third-party certification process.

The Non-GMO Project’s adherence to this process sets the Butterfly apart from self-made claims.

Every product that wears the Butterfly must comply with the Non-GMO Project Standard — the guiding document for Verification. But the credibility of a label doesn’t stop at its standard. Independent, third-party auditors must assess each product to ensure that the label is meaningful. That independence keeps the Butterfly strong — and helps avoid conflicts of interest.

Independent verifiers are essential to a meaningful label

Conflicts of interest can undermine the integrity of a label. When a company develops a label — even if it’s an excellent label with a strict set of standards — they have a financial stake in that label’s success. They want their label to have meaning, and they want people and brands to seek out the label. Suppose that company also conducts all the product reviews and testing. In that case, the fact that they want their label to succeed — to be widespread and sought after — might distort how they implement or interpret evaluations. Their findings could be biased. That’s a conflict of interest.

Working with independent, third-party verifiers is just one way the Non-GMO Project ensures an unbiased review of a product has taken place. These expert teams — called Technical Administrators — work with many clean food labels like ours, as well as other certification programs across a variety of industries. Their success is determined by their accuracy and expertise.

The Non-GMO Project works with four independent Technical Administrators — TAs for short. The TAs ensure that every product that wears the Butterfly seal meets the highest standards for GMO avoidance — that’s what keeps the seal meaningful and makes it desirable for the products and trustworthy to shoppers. 

The TAs hold the integrity of the Butterfly label in their hands.

Good company: Who are the third-party Technical Administrators?

While the TAs work with us, it’s important to note that they do not work for us. Their expertise is in supply chain tracing, segregation and testing. Their guiding star is excellence in their fields.

The first TA we worked with was FoodChain ID. The people at FoodChain ID began their work in the 1990s, just as GMOs entered the food supply. Their passion for a natural food supply made them a powerful partner as the Non-GMO Project Product Verification Program gained speed. FoodChain ID also handles USDA Organic Certification and a variety of independent testing services.

Another verifier active in organics is Where Food Comes From (WFCF to its friends and neighbors). The people behind WFCF believe everyone deserves accurate and unbiased information about their food. Their expertise in auditing livestock-derived products is invaluable — particularly since many GMOs produced in North America end up in animal feed.

With a mission to protect and improve human health worldwide, NSF International has been a global leader in consumer health, safety and sustainability certifications as well as auditing, testing and standards development for over 75 years. NSF also offers USDA and international organic certification through Quality Assurance International (QAI) — an organic industry pioneer for over 30 years — along with gluten-free, plant-based and other independent product certifications.

SCS Global Services extends a global reach to their commitment to sustainability. They work in food safety and quality, environmental protection and responsible sourcing, from certifying seafood for the Marine Stewardship Council to assuring responsible provenance for precious gems. 

Collectively, these four organizations hold more than a century of experience. Their passion and expertise ensure that when you look for the Butterfly, you know you are supporting a non-GMO future.

Third-party certification: Your insurance against greenwashing

With all the competing claims and labels in the marketplace, the Non-GMO Project is committed to bringing you one of the most rigorously evaluated, independently-assessed clean food labels out there — your shortcut for avoiding GMOs. When you see the Non-GMO Project Verified seal on your favorite products, rest assured that teams of third-party industry experts have scrutinized it — all so you don’t have to. 

The Butterfly gives you the peace of mind you need to shop your values.

 

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