USDA Getting Into Non-GMO Certification Business?

May 26, 2015
U.S. Agriculture Secretary's memo hints at developing AMS program.

USDA is developing a Process Verified Program (PVP) claim for non-GMO corn and soybeans, which could both rival the private Non-GMO Project certification and provide a government-issued standard against which Vermont's pending state labeling law and the developing national regulation could be measured.

The program follows the agency's existing Process Verified Program (PVP), operated by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), which is the framework used to certify organic products. The PVP verifies marketing claims involving a range of product characteristics.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack revealed the program in a May 1 memo to staff, noting:

"Recently, a leading global company asked AMS to help verify that the corn and soybeans it uses in its products are not genetically engineered so that the company could label the products as such. AMS worked with the company to develop testing and verification processes to verify the non-GE claim. While the Process Verified Program itself is not a new program, this is the first non-GMO/GE claim verified through USDA. It will be announced soon, and other companies are already lining up to take advantage of this service."

Apparently, AMS would administer the voluntary program. Products will undergo testing and verification, with the intent to assure “consumers that marketing claims made by food companies have been verified by an independent third-party.” Presumably, companies that obtain approval can market their products with the USDA Process Verified logo.

"This is a great example of AMS employees working in partnership with stakeholders to respond creatively and adapt to changes in the market, monitor trends and consumer demands, and develop solutions that meet industry and consumer needs," Vilsack said in the memo.

As of May 26, there has been no formal USDA announcement of the program. We'll post it as soon as we see one.

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