At Mercer Foods, we believe you should know exactly what is going into your food. For that reason, we make a distinction between foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and foods made without them. Among our many qualifications and certifications, Mercer ensures that all of our fruits and vegetables are sourced from non-GMO providers.
But what exactly is a GMO, and how does produce qualify as non-GMO? Some answers can be found in the certifications.
What are GMOs?
The term “GMO” is an acronym meaning “Genetically Modified Organism” and refers to any organism that has been modified through genetic engineering. This engineering can be across plants of the same species (intra-species), or through cross-species modification (trans-genic). For example, many row crops, like field corn, soy, and sugar beets, are grown from predominantly GMO seedstock. Some of these crops are genetically modified to produce insecticides or be resistant to certain herbicides.
Though it’s not unusual to find GMOs in field crops, the majority of dried, fresh, and frozen fruits and vegetables on the market are from non-GMO sources. Unfortunately, labeling and information about non-GMO are sometimes not easily accessible to the public.
Is there a standard for non-GMO?
Currently, the USDA has no rules in force for labeling a product as either GMO or non-GMO, though a recent bill in the U.S. Congress could lead to the first national labeling protocol. The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is the government agency responsible for setting the standards for several labeling processes including the well-known USDA Organic label. The AMS does not conduct organic certification directly; rather, the agency provides accreditation to dozens of independent certification agencies. One of these accredited organic certification agencies, Oregon Tilth, conducts the organic certification programs for Mercer Foods.
Because the USDA does not have rules for labeling GMOs, all non-GMO labeling is currently performed by private certification agencies and is unrelated to the government agency. The USDA does administer a separate voluntary system via its Process Verified Program, which is a verification service that provides a unique way to produce agricultural products for customers. Anyone can apply for USDA Process Verification if they have a clearly defined, implemented, and unique agricultural process.
Other certification processes
Since there is no government oversight for non-GMO, in order to ensure the highest standard in non-GMO certification, food producers work with independent certifiers such as the Non-GMO Project. As one of the fastest-growing labels in the food and natural products industry, this organization works with food producers to test and verify that agricultural ingredients entering the market are produced without GMOs. In non-GMO certification systems, individual products are certified, not entire organizations. Mercer is currently working to have numerous products certified by the Non-GMO Project.
Mercer’s commitment to quality
Mercer ensures that every product is non-GMO from its origin, coming from the best sources in the produce industry. Additionally, it helps that most fruits and vegetables are non-GMO from the start.
Our research and development department is firmly committed to innovative solutions and bringing the very best products to the market. With the vast amount of certifications and verifications, we believe in being as open and transparent about our certification processes as possible. If you are curious about our certifications and how they relate to your product, get in touch with us so we can answer any questions you might have. You can also share any GMO-related information you might have on our Twitter or Facebook.