In the Saturday, August 29 NYTimes:
Alarmed that genetically engineered crops may be finding their way into organic and natural foods, an industry group has begun a campaign to test products and label those that are largely free of biotech ingredients. A campaign hopes to back up claims some food makers are already making.
With farmers using gene-altered seeds to grow much of North America’s corn, soybeans, canola and sugar, ingredients derived from biotech crops have become hard for food companies to avoid. But many makers of organic and natural foods are convinced that their credibility in the marketplace requires them to do so.
The industry group, the Non-GMO Project, says its new label is aimed at reassuring consumers and will be backed by rigorous testing.
“There’s a vulnerability here that the industry is addressing,” said Michael J. Potter, the founder and president of Eden Foods and a board member of the Non-GMO Project, the organization responsible for the testing and labeling campaign.
As plantings of conventional crops with genetic modifications soared in recent years, Mr. Potter put in place stringent safeguards to ensure that the organic soybeans he bought for tofu, soy milk and other products did not come from genetically engineered plants. He even supplies the seed that farmers use to grow his soybeans.
But many other companies have not been so careful, and as a result, Mr. Potter said, the organic and natural foods industry is like “a dirty room” in need of cleaning.
“What I’ve heard, what I know, what I’ve seen, what’s been tested and the test results that have been shared with me, clearly indicate that the room is very dirty,” Mr. Potter said.
Hundreds of products already claim on their packaging that they do not contain genetically modified ingredients, but with little consistency in the labeling and little assurance that the products have actually been tested. The new labeling campaign hopes to clear up such confusion.
The initials GMO stand for genetically modified organism. Participants in the Non-GMO Project include major players in the organic and natural foods business, like Whole Foods Market.
Read the rest of the NYTimes article.