About 580 natural food stores have said they will take part in Non-GMO Month this month. Nearly 900 products have qualified so far to carry the Non-GMO Project seal, which uses a verification program combining on-site audits, genetic testing of ingredients and a document-based review to confirm that foods do not contain GM ingredients.
The Non-GMO Project was established last year, but this month heralds the arrival of its verification seal on retail products. Whole Foods Market has put forward its entire 365 Every Day Value private label product range for authentication by the scheme and said it expects to announce additional verified products during October.
Whole Foods Market senior global vice president of purchasing, distribution and marketing Michael Besancon said: “Shoppers want more information about what’s happening to their food. The Non-GMO Project’s program helps us stay true to our mission of offering food in its most natural and unadulterated state. We’re committed to this program because it gives us and our suppliers a way to label non-GMO verified products and to educate consumers so they can make informed choices.”
Although the USDA requires that certified organic produce must also be GM-free, there is no government requirement for labeling of foods containing GM ingredients in the non-organic sector. And for some crops, it is becoming increasingly difficult for manufacturers to source non-GM versions. GM soy, for example – the most widely grown GM crop – now accounts for 90 percent of soy produced in the US.
CEO of the Independent Natural Food Retailers Association Corinne Shindelar said: “Retailers started the Non-GMO Project because of consumer concern and requests for non-GMO foods.”