Consumers in the USA are increasingly aware of issues impacting the food they eat; this includes the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically engineered (GE) ingredients, and they want to know more.

GMO and GE

Debate has raged for many years over the pros and cons of GMO/GE food, feed and ingredients. Indeed, around the world regulation of GMO products, and their acceptability to different national markets, varies widely. Many studies have been conducted into GMO and GE foods, with differing outcomes and conclusions, thereby ensuring that consumers, the final arbiter of acceptance, are influenced by different opinions.

Natural selection and selective breeding for specific desirable traits are both activities that lead to changes in seed and plant properties. GMO and GE techniques take this one step further, but with strict controls on safety related to cross-contamination.

Driven by the twin demands of transparency in the supply chain and a desire to voluntarily declare that processed food is manufactured without GMO or GE ingredients, SGS has developed a new standard, the SGS No GE Ingredients Supply Chain Process Verification Standard (US Version), which audits and verifies processes across the supply chain, to support this claim in the USA.

Certification of food and ingredients outside the USA has been a common SGS service for many years. This activity is covered under the SGS Non GMO Supply Chain Standard, which is based on the European Union’s Directive and legal framework. Supply chains anywhere in the world can actively use it, even though it is not an accredited scheme.

The SGS No GE Ingredients Supply Chain Process Verification Standard (US Version)

Applicable only to food and pet food industry operators in the USA and their suppliers for the US market, the No GE standard has been developed in accordance with guidance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) as well as taking into consideration US federal and state guidance and proposed and passed laws. Though not an accredited scheme, this standard can support labeling claims in the USA.

Increasing demand from consumers in North America, to be able to choose to eat food with No GMO or No GE ingredients, allows farmers in the USA and abroad to reach new markets. Recent studies [1] indicate that demand for No GMO and No GE foods produced in the USA is higher than for organically produced food.

GMO/GE Within Scope

The plant varieties that fall under the GE and GMO consideration are rapidly increasing and many developed varieties await homogenization by authorities. The list of grains and produce falling within the scope of the SGS No GE standard is based on the Centre for Environmental Risk Assessment’s (CERA) guidance.

The No GE standard can be applied to processed and unprocessed food and beverages for human consumption, as well as pet food, and the Non GMO standard also includes feed and beverages for animal consumption and pet food.

Which Supply Chain Stakeholders Can Be Included?

SGS’s No GE and Non GMO standards can be applied to all processes in the supply chain, including:

  • Seed production and supply
  • Farming
  • Trading
  • Storage 
  • Transportation
  • Processing
  • Packaging

In addition, the standard can be extended to packaging material, for example tea bags.

Route to Certification

Compliance to this standard is confirmed by a process verification audit. On successful audit completion, certification will be granted. Certification is valid for three years with annual surveillance audits.

Testing, as a route to further assurance, is required to demonstrate compliance. In Brookings, South Dakota, SGS provides state of the art laboratory services. Outside the USA SGS has integrated these services into our global network of food testing laboratories.

General Requirements

Facilities must implement effective methods for evaluation of the GE/GMO status of an ingredient, define a sampling, testing and monitoring plan based on a risk assessment with application of the HACCP principles, and ensure that commingling of non-GE/GMO and GE/GMO derivatives does not occur during transport, in storage or during production.

Both standards require the operator/processor to have in place appropriate mechanisms in the event of an issue with products produced under these standards, such as the commingling of non-GE/GMO and GE/GMO derivatives. This includes the requirement for a market removal plan if comingling occurs.

From the farm to retail point of sale, SGS’s new standards demonstrate the GMO/GE status of food and its ingredients, with third party verification of the processes in the supply chain.

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For more information, contact:
Bruno Widmer
Business Development Manager
t: +41 22 739 94 68


Chris Ranschaert
Technical Governance
t: +32 35 70 97 84


The battle between organic, non-GMO labels rages