Avoiding genetically modified foods is an issue of increasing importance to American consumers. According to a Consumer Reports article written in October of 2014, more than 70% of Americans said they don’t want GMO foods in their food, and 92% want genetically modified foods to be labeled as such. Although there is no current scientific evidence that eating genetically modified foods poses a threat to health, many consumers are worried about the long term and yet unknown consequences these GMO foods may have on our health or the health of the ecosystem in which those foods are grown.
We’d had our supplements tested in early 2018 to determine if they contained any genetically modified organisms, and the test results were all negative for GMOs. That testing, while a necessary first step, doesn’t allow you to place any claims of being GMO free on your label. In order to meet our customer’s desire for clear and transparent labeling, we chose the Non-GMO Project to be our certifying body because the Non-GMO Project Verified is the fastest growing label in the natural products industry, representing over $26 billion in annual sales and more than 50,000 Verified products for over 3,000 brands! Almost everyone has seen the Non-GMO Project butterfly logo and we knew that we would be proud to display that logo on our products if we could get them verified. We began work on the project began early in 2019.
The Non-GMO Project has earned its reputation for being the most trusted Non-GMO certifying body in the world because of the rigorous requirements food makers must meet in order to get a product Non-GMO Project Verified. The process of getting a product verified begins with providing proof that each ingredient in the product is itself Non-GMO. Because sourcing Non-GMO ingredients has always been a priority for Norm’s Farms, we expected this part of the process to be straight forward. As it turned out, it took an enormous amount of work to gather all the documentation that was required from the ingredient’s manufacturers. While we submitted all our products for Non-GMO Verification, we had to withdraw our Elderberry Wellness Syrup from the project because it contains honey. We learned that it is nearly impossible to verify honey as Non-GMO because of the requirement that you prove that the bees didn’t gather pollen from GMO crops. We learned that bees commonly travel 2 miles, and sometimes as much as 6 miles, in any direction from their hive to gather pollen, so large land holders who happen to be growing only Non-GMO crops and are beekeepers as well are the only ones able to get their honey verified as Non-GMO. Unfortunately, that honey is prohibitively expensive, costing as much as 16 times as much as non-verified honey, so we had no other option other than to withdraw our Elderberry Wellness Syrup from consideration.
Our Elderberry Extract, Children’s Formula, all four of our jams and jelly and both of our elderflower cocktail and soda mixers were successfully verified earlier this month and we are already hard at work getting the pretty Non-GMO Project butterfly logo on our product labels! Our new labels should start hitting the shelves in early 2020.