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Non-GMO:
What’s behind “the Butterfly” logo?

The Non-GMO Project is an extraordinary non-profit success story impacting human food, pet food, and animal feed industries.

Started in 2007 by organic grocery stores in California and Ontario as a food marketing strategy, today this “product verification program” covers more than 3,000 brands, representing more than 50,000 products and more than $26 billion in sales.

“Because of consumer demand across North America,” the organizers note, “Non-GMO Project Verified products remain one of the fastest growing sectors in the marketplace and the Butterfly is the most trusted label for GMO avoidance among shoppers today.”

But what does the Butterfly logo actually mean?

The Non-GMO Project is a “third-party certifying organization” authorized by the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to verify that a food product was produced without certain commodity ingredients.

The Non-GMO Project characterizes those ingredients as “high-risk.” However, they use that term in a misleading way.

High-risk does not refer to any risk to health or safety but to the relative likelihood that ingredients may be “genetically modified.” Such ingredients include soy, canola, corn, papaya, sugar beet, zucchini, microbes (in yoghurt, for example), and almost every animal product (because the animal probably was fed one or more such commodity ingredients).

In any case, if a food commodity — like oranges — has no GMO analog or equivalent, then it cannot be non-GMO.

The Butterfly logo on a package means the manufacturer participates in the Non-GMO Project, which is fee-based and marketed throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Why is “GMO avoidance” important for consumers?

Surveys suggest that more than 40% of U.S. consumers take GMOs into consideration while shopping. Among these consumers, 85% say their avoidance of GMOs stems from health concerns.

However, U.S. regulators and most scientific authorities insist that GMO health concerns remain unfounded. Nontheless, such consumer attitudes and the “precautionary principle” have shaped European Union food safety rules and international trade since the 1990s.

The scientific consensus is that GMO-produced foods are safe to eat, notes Lindsay Moyer, MS, RDN, senior nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, in an article pointing out that non-GMO, organic, and “natural” foods may not be as healthy as parents think.

How does non-GMO food marketing affect D&D?

D&D’s products — covering more than 750 ingredients — go into animal feed and pet food products worldwide. A growing proportion of those finished products may carry a USDA-certified organic label.

We can expect continued growth of the non-GMO market, which is likely to impact animal food product labeling to an increasing degree in 2021 and beyond.

While D&D has effective purchasing, handling, and processing protocols to meet the growing market for certified organic products, the non-GMO market presents new challenges.

For example, non-GMO products are more difficult to source – so immediate availability can be problematic. Also, pricing is much higher compared to equivalent standard products.

Thanks for your interest! Please let us know what other topics you’d like to see in “Did You Know?” Email claytong@ddingredient.com

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