The State of GMOs

For a generation now, most of the corn, soy, canola and sugar beets grown in the U.S. have been genetically modified. But non-GMO labeling is growing.

By Mark Anthony, Ph.D., Technical Editor

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That Non-GMO Project Verified standard is consistent with laws in the EU, where any product containing more than 0.9 percent GMO must be labeled. “More than 14,000 products are Non-GMO Project Verified, and about 500 more are added every month,” adds VanDerslice. “The length of the process can vary based on a number of factors, such as number of facilities or complexity of the product. An average product can take 3-6 months to complete the process from start to finish.”

Another supporter of the Non-GMO Project is WhiteWave Foods Inc. Broomfield, Colo. The maker of dairy substitute beverages and organic dairy products began as a small tofu company. WhiteWave uses only non-GMO ingredients for all its products. This is somewhat difficult sourcing since the vast majority of soybeans are genetically modified.

But many ingredient providers are recognizing the need and so pushing forward with non-GMO offerings. For example, Briess Malt & Ingredients Inc., Chilton, Wis., offers a portfolio of non-GMO natural sweeteners and specialty grain ingredients, all derived from North American sources. Starch giant Ingredion Inc., Westchester, Ill., notes in its corporate communications that it and its affiliated companies “produce non-GMO and other identity-preserved products derived from corn, oats, stevia, and tapioca/yucca/manioc roots.”

TIC Gums Inc., White Marsh, Md., is expanding its line of non-GMO ingredients. The company promotes ingredients classed as “Non-GMO” or “NGMO” if they meet the 0.9 percent criteria. Suppliers of raw ingredients to TIC Gums must certify that their ingredients also meet the 0.9 percent rule "or there are no known commercial sources of the products’ raw ingredient constituents derived from genetically modified organisms.” Examples include gum acacia and guar gum.

Golden Rice


Some companies are taking the non-GMO commitment beyond the ingredients of their products. Oakland, Calif.-based Numi Tea Co.’s commitment to non-GMO verification is promoted as “complete.” Numi claims it is the first company to have its tea bags — not merely the tea ingredients — verified by the Non-GMO Project. Tea bags are submerged in hot water before consumption, so, the composition of the bags themselves is important to Numi. The bags are compostable and made from Manila hemp cellulose. They are oxygen whitened and even the tag is made from 100 percent recycled material and soy-based inks.

In January of this year, Whole Earth Sweetener Co., Chicago, announced the launch of a new PureVia stevia sweetener produced with non-GMO ingredients. It’s billed as “the first global brand of all-natural sweetener to promote this choice in the U.S.” The reformulation affects both regular PureVia and the PureVia Turbinado Raw Cane Sugar & Stevia Blend. The non-GMO dextrose used is derived from cassava root rather than from corn.

At present, opinions regarding genetically modified organisms seem entrenched. Whether or not the government comes down with a ruling on labeling in the near future, a form of labeling already is happening, in the form of the Non-GMO Project. That means, for the foreseeable future, there will be an expanding market for non-GMO foods.

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