In the 1990s, GMOs entered the food supply without public consultation or consent.
The first generation of GMOs were novel organisms created in a lab by combining DNA from different species. The genetically modified crops were engineered to withstand weedkillers or produce their own insecticide. While GMOs were added to common products that were consumed every day, the preferences of the people who would ultimately eat those products was never considered.
That lack of transparency is at the root of many of our concerns over GMOs. Food’s role in human life is personal and nuanced. Food brings us together. It’s an essential part of many social and cultural traditions. Unnatural modification, undertaken without our input or consent, just rubs folks the wrong way – and rightfully so!
Because nobody asked for the public’s opinion before adding genetically modified organisms to the food supply, the Non-GMO Project was founded to serve the millions of people who wanted to avoid them.
Trustworthy and rigorous
Since 2007, the Non-GMO Project has offered North America’s most trusted and rigorous certification for GMO avoidance.
Because of our intense focus on GMOs, the Project can dive deeper and respond faster to new GMOs than other clean label certifications. The Non-GMO Project Standard is continually adapting to new technologies and verification requires ingredient segregation, supply chain tracing and testing for ingredients on the High-Risk List. No other non-GMO label offers that level of scrutiny.
For example, under USDA Organic Certification, genetically modified organisms are considered excluded methods, but contamination can occur in the absence of regular testing. Meanwhile, the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Act, the new federal food labeling law for bioengineered food, excludes most “new GMOs” created with emerging biotechnology techniques, leaving shoppers with an incomplete picture of the products they’re purchasing and eating.
Monitoring new GMOs around the world
The pace of biotech development is only speeding up. That’s why it’s critical for us to keep an eye on what’s coming down the pike so we can better serve everyone who deserves accurate food labeling.
While the Butterfly seal helps you avoid GMOs that are already on the market, our dedicated research team tracks what’s on the horizon. The biotech industry is expanding at a staggering rate, fueled by funding from venture capitalists. Since we began monitoring developments in the field, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in activity and investment globally: Over a period of 5 years, the number of biotech developers working in this field grew by 300%.
GMOs are no longer limited to a handful of crops created by a few agrichemical corporations. New GMOs made using emerging and experimental techniques are less costly to produce than early GMOs were, with a much faster turnaround time. These products are entering the food supply virtually unregulated and unlabeled.
Towards a fair, equitable and just food system
Since the Non-GMO Project’s inception 15 years ago, our understanding of what’s at stake in the food system has grown.
Back then, we were among the highly motivated and deeply concerned folks in the natural food sector who knew instinctively we didn’t want GMOs in our food. We were concerned about the long term effects and uncomfortable with the lack of social engagement on a topic that is so personal to each of us. We questioned a system of agriculture that valued uniformity over resilience and privately-held patents over commonly-held genetic resources. Also, we worried that GMOs would erode the diversity of our genetic inheritance, leaving in their wake a homogenous, fragile system where there was once abundance and variety.
The passing years have validated all of those concerns and added a few new ones. We’ve witnessed the generational effects of increased chemical use from herbicide-resistant GMOs, farmers losing autonomy through restrictive user agreements and the erosion of individual expertise and Indigenous knowledge gained over millennia.
With so many ill effects, why does the GMO experiment continue? Who benefits from it? The expansion of GMOs in our food system benefits private corporations that hold patents on modified crops and the costly herbicides that go with them. Currently, new GMOs such as “animal-free” dairy proteins foreshadow a future of even more private ownership of essential commodities and an increase in lab-grown food.
The Non-GMO Project doesn’t answer to those corporations. We answer to the roughly 90% of people who support GMO labeling. In a fast-moving world with a changing biotechnology landscape, it’s our responsibility to protect your right to choose.