Pine Manor Farms recently gained approval to the Non-GMO Project standard. But, what does that mean?
First of all, let’s define what a GMO is. A GMO, or genetically modified organism, is an animal, plant or bacteria whose genetic material has been manipulated by adding or removing genes from another organism to turn on or off different traits. So, for example, if you want a more drought resistant crop, you add a gene from a more drought tolerant plant species, and you get a GMO version of that crop that is now better suited for a drier climate.
In livestock and poultry, the focus on GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, isn’t about the animal itself, it is about what they eat. It’s not common practice to genetically modify animals, but the feeds they consume tend to be crops that are typically grown from GMO seeds. As a result, Non-GMO Project verification of chickens is all about looking at what they eat!
- Focus on Feed. To be Non-GMO Project Verified, 100% of the feedstuffs consumed by Pine Manor Farms chickens must be audited. This includes traceability back to where they were planted, grown and harvested and ensuring that those seeds were sourced from non-GMO suppliers.
- Lots of Testing. The majority of chicken feed is corn and soy, both of which are considered to be at a high risk of coming from GMO seeds. As a result, not only is the traceability of the feeds important, but they also must be tested to confirm that there is no presence of GMOs.
- Standard Operating Procedures. It sounds boring, but paperwork and process is everything when it comes to Non-GMO verification. There are very specific requirements around documenting processes, from transport of feed, to batching and testing, making Standard Operating Procedures critical to a farms success.
- Facility Audits. Once all of the work is done on the sourcing, process and testing side, it then needs to be confirmed with an onsite facility audit.
- Oversight, oversight, oversight. Verification is not a one-time process. It takes constant upkeep, oversight and an annual renewal process. Each year Pine Manor Farms must prove that they continue to maintain the correct processes and procedures to be Non-GMO Project Verified.
Download our Non-GMO process handout here.