GMOs: Frequently Asked Questions About Genetically Modified Ingredients
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are an important issue for grocery retailers. These FAQs are designed to give our customers background on GMOs.
WHAT ARE GMOS?
GMOs are living organisms that have their genetic material altered using genetic engineering to produce some desired change in their characteristics that does not occur naturally. Some foods, such as genetically modified crops, are derived from GMOs with the goal of introducing a new trait to the crop. An example would be using genetic engineering to improve a plant’s resistance to pests, diseases, or pesticides.
WHICH FOODS CONTAIN GMOS?
GMOs appear in genetically modified foods, such as genetically modified produce, packaged foods that contain ingredients made from genetically modified crops (such as high fructose corn syrup), and meat or dairy products that come from animals fed genetically modified grains. When GMOs appear in crops, they are generally used to promote faster growth, resistance to pathogens, production of extra nutrients, or any other beneficial purpose.
DOES FOOD AT SPROUTS CONTAIN GMOS?
It is our desire to offer our customers a wide variety of non-GMO items. Customers hoping to avoid GMOs can look for certified organic products, which should be free from GMOs per the USDA National Organic Standards.
Customers can also look for Non-GMO Project Verified products. The Non-GMO Project is dedicated to promoting the use of non-GMO ingredients and verifying products that avoid GMO ingredients. The Non-GMO Project Verified seal provides assurances that a product has been produced according to its standard for GMOs. Becoming non-GMO certified takes time and is very costly to suppliers. That cost is multiplied as the number of ingredients increases because each potentially GMO ingredient must be certified. And because the Non-GMO Project is still fairly new (it began in 2005) and the desire for certification is growing exponentially, the line of suppliers seeking certifications is long. Depending on the number of products a supplier manufactures and would like to have verified, it’s not surprising that it could take years to become completely certified. For more information, please visit nongmoproject.org.
To qualify as a Sprouts supplier, companies must provide accurate nutritional information so that we can determine whether there are specific ingredients that may be concerning to our customers or us. However, this does not currently cover GMOs because there is no federal regulation or requirement forcing suppliers to disclose the presence of GMOs. As a result, unfortunately, grocers are not yet able to determine exactly which foods contain GMOs.