There are also State and retailer initiatives, he said, but the challenge is that awareness of Genetically Modified foods among many consumers is lacking.“Most consumers don’t even know how much GE foods they are consuming.” Indeed, Courtney Pineau, assistant director, The Non-GMO Project, told attendees at the UNPA seminar that, consistently, people don’t know what GMOs are.
“I think it’s absolutely the right standard.”Despite Mega Foods having their own non-GMO seal on numerous products, the company only has Non-GMO Project verification on a handful of products. The amazing growth in the non-GMO seal is huge and it’s putting undue pressure on supplements, because we are not there yet.”Retailers are questioning why 100% of a company’s products are not certified, and this causes undue pressure because retailers just want to be able to point to a seal, he said.
“We have zero chance to get some of our products certified by the Non-GMO Project,” he admitted. Seals So will we see a proliferation of non-GMO seals on products, like we see with GMP seals, kosher, and organic? “The Non-GMO Project verification sets a very high standard,” he says, “We may see varying standards with different seals in the future.”Mega Food’s Craven added: “I’m not advocating a less rigorous standard.
We’re advocating a phased approach so our supply chain can catch up.
The non-GMO food and supplement category is the fastest growing sector in the entire natural products industry, with non-GMO product sales recently surpassing $3.5 billion, but the opportunities are countered by the significant challenges of attaining non-GMO verification.
Loren Israelsen, executive director of the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA), told us: “We sense that the issue is substantially more significant than dietary supplement companies think.“There is not the practice of testing in-bound materials for GMO status.
If you look at the core GMO crops and their derivatives, then it could be a difficult situation.”Speaking at a recent seminar hosted by the UNPA, Robert Craven, CEO, Food State/ Mega Food told attendees that being a non-GMO supplement manufacturer is not easy.“The standard is very high to play in the realm,” he said, “and the supply community is not there with us yet.”‘Suppliers hold the key’Michael Lelah, technical director at NOW Foods, said there is a tremendous need for education in the supply chain.“It would be great to bring suppliers to the table and have the conversation about how to fix this.”On the consumer side, there is a huge amount of activity around campaigning for labeling initiatives, said Lelah.Estimates from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) put the presence of GMOs in more than 75% of conventional processed food.“That’s an old figure,” she said, “and I would imagine that this is a very conservative number.”NOW Foods has set for itself the target of having its entire food line being non-GMO by the end of 2013.Dietary supplements are more complicated, said Lelah, and the company is working on this category-by-category. They certainly can incorporate non-GMO certification into their ingredient process.But they currently have little incentive to do that,” he added.“The supply chain for ingredients cannot convert overnight, and it’s really hard for brands to explain this to consumers.”Non-GMO Project Craven said he “loves” the standard set by the Non-GMO Project.