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GMO-FREE PRODUCTS: Leading U.S. organic and natural food companies enroll in Non-GMO Project



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:  LEADING ORGANIC AND NATURAL FOOD COMPANIES ENROLL IN NON-GMO PROJECT

SOURCE: Natural & Nutritional Products Industry Center, USA

AUTHOR: Non-GMO Project, USA, Press Release

URL:    http://www.npicenter.com/anm/templates/newsATemp.aspx?articleid=22905&zoneid=2

DATE:   16.12.2008

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LEADING ORGANIC AND NATURAL FOOD COMPANIES ENROLL IN NON-GMO PROJECT

After nearly two years of collaborative development by stakeholders in all sectors of the organic and natural products industry, the Non-GMO Project?s Product Verification Program is up and running, with over 350 products already enrolled.

The Non-GMO Project, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, was originally formed by retailers in search of non-genetically modified (non-GMO) options for their customers who were concerned about negative impacts of GM foods. Its reach broadened in March 2007, when the founding Board of Directors expanded to include CEOs and top executives from Eden Foods, Lundberg Family Farms, Nature?s Path Organic Foods, Organic Valley, UNFI, and Whole Foods Market. These trusted industry leaders, along with the 40+ members of the Project?s Technical Advisory Board and Communications Committee, are guiding the way in achieving the Non-GMO Project?s mission of providing consumers with an informed choice, and ensuring sustained availability of non-GMO options.

According to Joe Dickson, Quality Standards & Organic Programs Coordinator for Whole Foods Market, ?We?ve partnered with The Non-GMO Project because we want to offer shoppers a consistent and meaningful ?non-GMO? choice for products without genetic engineering or recombinant DNA technologies. Whole Foods Market strongly supports The Non-GMO Project as a means to ensure the continued availability of verified non-GMO food in North America.?
 
Unlike over 60 other countries around the world, including Australia, Russia, China, and all the countries in the EU, the governments in the U.S. and Canada do not require foods containing GMOs to be labeled. This is in spite of clear public preference for labeling (for example, a 2008 CBS News Poll found that 87% of the U.S. public wants GMOs labeled). GMOs are created when DNA from one species is inserted into another species in a laboratory, creating combinations of plant, animal, bacterial, and viral genes that do not occur
  in nature or through traditional cross-breeding. Many consumers find the lack of peer-reviewed scientific evidence of GMO safety to be cause for concern.

The Non-GMO Project was founded on a belief that people have the right to choose whether or not they consume GMOs. Its first major accomplishment came in March 2008, with the adoption of the Non-GMO Project Standard. This consensus-based document is North America?s first independent, third party standard for production systems designed to avoid GMOs. The Standard is a public document (available at www.nongmoproject.org), and a schedule of semi-annual comment periods ensures that it stays current, reflecting a balance of meaningfulness and achievability.

With the Standard in place, companies have begun enrolling products in the Project?s Product Verification Program. According to one participant, Arran Stephens, Founder & CEO of Nature?s Path Organic Foods, North America?s largest producer of organic breakfast foods, ?Our company enrolled in the Non-GMO Project as a founding member because we believe that verification and measurement in a credible and scientific way is essential to any systematic efforts to control the problem of GMO contamination.? The Program is process-based, and encompasses traceability, segregation, and testing at critical control points. Products that the Program has identified as compliant with the Standard will have the option of bearing a ?Non-GMO Project Verified? seal beginning in October 2009. Until then, a list of participating products can be found on the Project?s website.

The Project is actively engaged in enrolling dozens more companies in the Program, and anticipates product enrollment in the thousands within the next 6 months. Manufacturers, processors, growers, and seed companies are invited to sign on or find out more at www.nongmoproject.org.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:  FIRST EVER ORGANIC AND NON-GMO PROJECT JOINT INSPECTIONS JUDGED A SUCCESS

SOURCE: Natural & Nutritional Products Industry Center, USA

AUTHOR: Non-GMO Project, USA, Press Release

URL:    http://www.npicenter.com/anm/templates/newsATemp.aspx?articleid=22906&zoneid=6

DATE:   16.12.2008

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FIRST EVER ORGANIC AND NON-GMO PROJECT JOINT INSPECTIONS JUDGED A SUCCESS

Organic inspectors with Quality Assurance International (QAI) recently completed the first three on-site inspections for the Non-GMO Project?s Product Verification Program, with more inspections scheduled soon. The inspections occurred in conjunction with the participating companies? annual organic inspections, reducing costs and labor. R.W. Garcia, SK Food, and WholeSoy & Co. are the first companies to go through these joint inspections.

According to Allan Perkins of R.W. Garcia, the joint inspections offer ?a big time and cost savings way to participate. You can achieve both certifications with one auditor and one audit. The organic and Non-GMO Project audits fit well together.? Aaron Skyberg of SK Foods agrees, saying, ?We were very pleased to be able to combine our organic and non-GMO verification inspections.? And Ted Nordquist, founder and CEO of WholeSoy & Co. adds that he thinks combining the inspections is ?an excellent idea, and our suppliers feel the same way.?

The onsite audit is second in the Non-GMO Project?s two-step verification process. Prior to inspection, all companies undergo a document-based review of GMO avoidance practices like traceability, segregation, and testing at critical control points. This information is compared with the consensus-based Non-GMO Project Standard in order to assess compliance.

A ?Non-GMO Project Verified Seal? will begin appearing on retail packages beginning in October 2009. In the meantime, a list of participating companies and the 350+ enrolled products can be found on the Project?s website: www.nongmoproject.org.

The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to informed choice for consumers, and committed to ensuring sustained availability of non-GMO options.

The Project emerged as an industry-wide initiative nearly two years ago, when its Board of Directors expanded beyond the original founding retailers to include stakeholders from every sector. Led by CEOs and top executives from industry leaders such as Eden Foods, Lundberg Family Farms, Nature?s Path Foods, Organic Valley, UNFI, and Whole Foods Market, the Project has successfully implemented North America?s first independent, third party standard and verification program for production systems designed to avoid GMOs.

The program fills a gap left by lack of government oversight in the labeling of GMO foods. As Project Executive Director Megan Thompson explains, ?Poll after poll shows that the public wants to know whether or not the food they?re eating contains GMOs. In fact, according to a CBS/New York Times poll from last summer, 53% of Americans said they would not buy food that has been genetically modified. The government has chosen not to require labels on food that contains GMOs, but fortunately our organic and natural products industry has stepped up and created this system for providing consumers with an informed choice.?

The program is open to all products (organic, natural, and conventional), but many of the first participants are certified organic companies. Though GMOs are an excluded method under the National Organic Program, their increasing prevalence in the conventional sector has raised concern among organic companies who want to make sure that their products stay non-GMO. As Project Board member and UNFI Board Chair and Founder Michael Funk puts it, ?There is no greater threat to the (organic) industry than GMOs.? The Project?s Product Verification Program is helping to keep organic products non-GMO, and the joint organic/Non-GMO Project inspections are evidence of an important alliance.


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