NON-GMO SUPPLY WORKING GROUP 

GOAL: Support a robust non-GMO sector as a pathway to a more diverse, resilient and sustainable food system that creates better long-term outcomes for farmers, consumers, and the environment.


Overview

The Non-GMO Supply Working Group is a cross-industry, collaborative effort to develop and strengthen non-GMO supply chains in the United States. Participants include seed breeders; seed dealers; farmers and farm advocacy groups; grain traders and brokers; food and ingredient manufacturers; consumer product goods companies; food retailers; service providers to the food and agriculture industries; and public interest and consumer organizations. 

Participants bring varied points of view to this initiative. Some are dedicated to organic agriculture; some work within conventional non-GMO supply chains; some operate across a wide range of supply chains, including mainstream commodity chains. All recognize the need for long-term commitment to finding collaborative solutions to the complex challenges of strengthening non-GMO supply chains. Our work is driven in part by the growing consumer demand for non-GMO products and a desire to ensure consumer and farmer choice in the marketplace.  

The group shares a common goal of supporting a robust non-GMO sector as a pathway to a more diverse, resilient and sustainable food system that creates better long-term outcomes for farmers, consumers, and the environment. 


Strategic Areas

Our work is focused around five strategic areas, each with targeted solution sets: Infrastructure & Capital, Standards, Farmer Resources & Engagement, Stakeholder Messaging, and Transition Projects.

Infrastructure & Capital

Analyze the critical infrastructure and transportation needs to support a robust and sustainable non-GMO system. Bring together public and private sector stakeholders to secure support for and commitment to addressing gaps and inefficiencies in the system. 

Standards

Educate industry stakeholders about current non-GMO standards and organize collaborative effort to analyze, refine, and support a standard that facilitates widespread adoption of non-GMO. Work with stakeholders to understand chain of custody in identity preserved supply chains and identify most efficient and effective verification system.

Farmer Resources & Engagement

In partnership with leading agriculture organizations across the country, develop tools and resources for farmers to support a cost-effective transition to non-GMO with improved sustainability outcomes. In addition to production guides and unbiased research data, coordinate national outreach effort to foster a network of grain, meat and dairy producers with a robust educational and marketplace opportunities clearinghouse.

Stakeholder Messaging

Advance a comprehensive strategy for communicating the value and rationale for transitioning to non-GMO production. Design reactive and proactive strategies for messaging to the media, food companies, farmers, and other supply chain stakeholders.

Monitor policy developments and labeling campaigns to alert the Innovation Network to emerging opportunities and challenges for non-GMO market.


Regional Transition Projects

To advance our goal of establishing and building non-GMO supply chains, members of the Innovation Network partner with regional stakeholders to implement transition strategies for dairy, meat and grain production systems. We work across regions and sectors to identify a faster path to a reliable and cost-effective supply of non-GMO ingredients and products. Our unique process facilitates collaboration and transparency across the supply chain to design system solutions that benefit all.

The Center for Sustainability Solutions program team works one-on-one and through a group process to develop roadmaps for brand owners and retailers who wish to transition to non-GMO. We draft solutions that address the key leverage and pressure points in the system, such as designing for full utilization of the milk profile or animal, improving affordability and availability of non-GMO feed and production inputs, and creating efficiencies for the verification process. 

To support farmers, handlers, processors, and distributors, we analyze and contribute to the development of specific tools and programs that address all aspects of non-GMO production. In our work in the Northeast dairy industry these include:

  • On-farm Transition Guide for Non-GMO Dairy Production
  • Asset Map for Grain Flow in the Region
  • Educational Seminars for Farmers, Dealers, and Service Providers
  • Non-GMO Research Trials for Seed Performance in Dairy Systems

We aim to transform the system through a collaborative, intentional design strategy that advances economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable agriculture systems. We are changing the way costs, benefits, and risks are shared across supply chains. By building new collaborations between buyers and suppliers in the region, we integrate principles of transparency and equity within our region’s supply chains. In doing so, we establish a new precedent for sustainable agriculture, which can transform our regional, national, and global food and farm systems into a truly sustainable and resilient system that benefits all.


Participants

We operate as a network of members and external partners across a variety of projects.

Our members include:


What Is Non-GMO?

The abbreviation ‘Non-GMO’ stands for ‘non-genetically modified organism.’ It refers to foods, feeds, fiber, and ingredients derived from crops, plants and animals that are developed through traditional breeding techniques (including hybridization) or that are wild harvested or wild caught. Non-GMO crops, which provide most of the world’s food supply, have been selectively bred over millennia to express a wide range of characteristics, such as high yield, improved nutrition and flavor, drought tolerance, insect resistance and adaptation to local soils and climate.

Genetically modified crops (also known as genetically engineered, GMO or GE crops) have been in commercial production since the mid-1990s. GMO crops are created through a variety of laboratory techniques that insert genes, usually from different species, into the genome of existing crop varieties. GMO crop varieties are typically patented by their developers and the seed is licensed to farmers. There are six field crops with genetically modified varieties in widespread use in the US: corn, soybeans, canola, cotton, sugar beets and, to a lesser extent, alfalfa. The most widely grown GMO varieties of these field crops have been engineered to enable the plant to survive spraying with certain herbicides (i.e. herbicide-tolerant traits); and/or to produce proteins in their tissues that are toxic to certain insect pests (i.e. insecticidal traits). Genetically modified varieties of other fruits and vegetables have been developed and commercialized on a smaller scale, including papaya, squash, potato, and apple. A genetically engineered salmon has been developed but is still under review by regulatory agencies.