What is GMO-tested?
GMO-tested is a higher standard than non-GMO verified or certified. We test any food that has a GMO equivalent before selling it to you, and we have a ZERO percent GMO tolerance. Other non-GMO verified or certified programs allow some percentage of GMO presence, usually close to 1%. GMO-Tested, on the other hand, means we tested for the presence of GMOs, and found NONE – ZERO percent. If we find ANY GMO present, we do NOT sell it.
Corn is by far the most problematic product to source GMO-free. Since we had to pull some of our own organic corn off the market due to very small amounts of GMO present, we decided to also test products in the market that had non-GMO claims on their labels. We found that two out of the three products we tested that were labeled non-GMO indeed had GMO DNA present. So we knew that making a statement or having a standard of GMO-free was not enough: every batch of products that had GMO equivalents present in the environment needed to be tested for GMO DNA, particularly corn. Any corn product we sell will have every batch tested prior to bringing to market.
Our GMO-Tested logo is only placed on products that have an equivalent GM product in the environment. We feel making non-GMO claims about products which currently have no GM varieties can be confusing and misleading to the consumer. A far greater problem for non-GMO products is the presence of glyphosate, and we have a need to identify non-GMO and organic foods which are glyphosate free.
When you see the Healthy Traditions GMO-Tested logo, you can be assured that it is to distinguish it from GMO products of the same variety in the market, and that we have tested that product prior to bringing it to market. Products which do not have any GM equivalent variety do not need to be tested, unless there is evidence that cross-contamination can occur, such as grains milled in large feed mills that also mill corn or other GM products.
All of our testing is done by third-party testing laboratories that have expertise in testing for the presence of GMO material. While we cannot guarantee that there will never be any presence of GMOs in any products we sell (nobody can), we do test for the presence of GMOs and reject anything with a positive test result, no matter how small. Specific test results are for specific batches, and it is possible to have variances within batches, or that we have stock of untested batches.
The Problem with Current Certifications
Organic Certification and GMO
The organic certification is a USDA government certification standard which is constantly under review and subject to change. The original proposed organic standards wanted to allow genetically modified food, but that proposal was tabled due to public outcry. Current USDA organic status does not allow for genetically modified organisms.
However, the current buffer zones required for organic certification are almost meaningless when it comes to corn, as it can cross-pollinate for miles. GMO corn today is close to 90% of the U.S. crop. So most certified organic corn will also have some GMO DNA present. There are currently no GMO tests required for USDA organic certification.
Non-GMO Verification or Certification
There are some private non-GMO verification/certification organizations in the United States. Companies have to pay to be listed and provide documentation that their products are GMO-free.
In addition, many products that have no GM equivalents in the environment carry non-GMO labels needlessly, since it has become a major marketing tool. Sales of foods with non-GMO claims are in the billions of dollars, and growing.
While a non-GMO verification or certification communicates a negative statement about a product’s GM content, it says nothing positive about how that product was produced. Non-GMO conventionally grown products that make heavy use of dangerous pesticides and herbicides (such as glyphosate), for example, could still be labeled GMO-free.
We recently pulled three products from the shelves of a health food store that were labeled as non-GMO verified. Two of the three tested positive for GMO DNA, both of them corn products. Some non-GMO standards allow for close to 1% presence of GMOs and still claim “non-GMO.”