An Associated Press report on May 14 said the U.S. Department of Agriculture has developed a way for companies to certify and label foods that are free of bioengineered/genetically modified ingredients. The report said it gained the information by obtaining a May 1 letter from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to U.S.D.A. employees.
The Non-GMO Project, a non-profit organization, said the AP report misinterpreted parts of the letter. The reported U.S.D.A. action may be related to a new twist on the U.S.D.A.’s “Process Verified Seal,” which has been in use for years, according to The Non-GMO Project.
The U.S.D.A. Process Verified Program provides companies that supply agricultural products or services the opportunity to assure customers of their ability to provide consistent quality products or services, according to the U.S.D.A. The Non-GMO Project said that for the first time the U.S.D.A. issued a “Process Verified Seal” in connection with a company’s non-bioengineered/non-G.M.O. practices. The Non-GMO Project, based in Bellingham, Wash., offers its own third-party verification seal that is not connected to the government.
The AP report said in the letter Mr. Vilsack wrote that a “leading global company,” which he did not identify, asked the U.S.D.A. to help verify that the corn and soybeans in its products are not bioengineered/genetically engineered. The letter further said the U.S.D.A.’s Agricultural Marketing Service worked with the company to develop testing and verification processes to verify the non-bioengineered/non-G.M.O. claim.
A U.S.D.A. official, when reached by Food Business News and Milling & Baking News, declined to comment on the record.