Non-GMO Claims Get a Boost From USDA

By Ricardo Carvajal -

The AP reportsthat USDA has developed a Process Verified Program (PVP) claim for non-GMO corn and soybeans, at the request of “a leading global company.” The PVP claim was approved under a program operated by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. The program provides a framework for the verification of voluntary marketing claims that can address a range of product characteristics. A company that obtains USDA approval of its PVP can market its product as USDA Process Verified and use this logo:

USDA Secretary Vilsack lauded the development in a memo to staff:

Recently, a leading global company asked AMS to help verify that the corn and soybeans it uses in its products are not genetically engineered so that the company could label the products as such. AMS worked with the company to develop testing and verification processes to verify the non-GE claim.
While the Process Verified Program itself is not a new program, this is the first non- GMO/GE claim verified through USDA. It will be announced soon, and other companies are already lining up to take advantage of this service.
This is a great example of AMS employees working in partnership with stakeholders to respond creatively and adapt to changes in the market, monitor trends and consumer demands, and develop solutions that meet industry and consumer needs.

The option of obtaining a USDA-approved PVP claim for non-GMO foods could give companies an alternative to existing options such as the Non-GMO Project. It might also come to play a role in litigationover Vermont’s new law requiring GMO labeling because the USDA approach timely illustrates the existence of alternatives to Vermont’s effort to compel speech – something that could prove relevant in the context of a First Amendment analysis of Vermont’s law.

A hat tip to Faegre Baker Daniels for making the USDA memo available on their website.