What makes your approach innovative?
We are linking everyone in the North American supply chain (from seed companies to consumers) in a comprehensive, transparent, and rigorous process to ensure the sustained availability and clear labeling of non-GMO options. This is a ground-breaking solution that has never been attempted before.
The idea was initially conceived of by a group of natural food retailers. Over and over their customers were asking how to know if a product had GMOs in it. Without a industry-wide non-GMO standard, third party verification, and consistent labeling, the retailers had no way of answering their customers' questions, and that's why the Non-GMO Project, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, was created. For the last several years, the Project's founding retailers, along with manufacturers, farmers, seed companies, distributors, processors and consumer advocacy groups have been working together to create an innovative program that provides North Americans the ability to choose verified non-GMO products.
How will you sustain your solution?
We have built a strong collaborative network, with over 60 people participating in the Project's governance through our Board of Directors, Technical Advisory Board, Communications Committee and Standard Committee. We also have over 30 companies all enrolled in our Product Verification Program. Having a diverse body of invested entities is central to the strength of the Project. Financially, although we have relied mostly on donations and grants until now, we are starting to see our operating expenses covered by revenue from the Product Verification Program, and that will increasingly continue to be the case. Lists of our Board and committee members, as well as all our donors, are publicly available on our website.
What will be the impact of your solution?
North Americans will no longer be the guinea pigs of GMO products, but will instead have the same right as people in Europe and elsewhere to avoid GMOs if they want to. Many people in the U.S. and Canada who don't yet know what a GMO is will learn, as they start seeing the "Non-GMO Project Verified" seal on products, and as our retailer programs reach them with education and information. Also, we have already heard from groups in countries like Brazil and Australia who are interested in using the Non-GMO Project model, and we hope to extend the program as soon as it is well established in North America.