Non-GMO Certifications

  • Overview
  • Benefits
  • Why Work With NSF?
  • Non-GMO Project Verification
  • NSF’s Non-GMO Certification

Today’s consumers care about what’s in their food. The increase in demand for transparency around genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically modified food requires a trusted and credible certifier to help guide manufacturers and retailers through the non-GMO certification process.

NSF International offers two non-GMO certification services: Non-GMO Project verification and NSF’s non-GMO certification (formerly called “True North”). We strive to make this complex process as streamlined as possible for producers, manufacturers and retailers.

We also offer other food safety certifications and services to save you both time and expense, and to minimize any disruptions in your operations. We have a thorough understanding of complicated GMO issues and provide a team of experienced account managers who care about your business and work together to deliver seamless service you can trust.


The global non-GMO foods market is expected to grow 16.23% between 2017-2023, according to Technavio.

Other benefits of non-GMO certification include:

  • Increased opportunities for market share and market differentiation
  • Ability to meet consumer and retailer demand for non-GMO labeling
  • Access to global non-GMO markets
  • Comprehensive risk management
  • Compliance with emerging retail, industry and government requirements
  • Increased consumer confidence and loyalty
  • Independent, third-party credibility for non-GMO claims
  • Compliance with varied domestic and international GMO labeling regulations

Why Work With NSF?

NSF has a clear understanding of complex GMO issues. Our certification process is streamlined so we can efficiently and accurately certify your products. NSF’s broad expertise helps us go above and beyond other certifiers.

Beyond exceptional service, NSF provides free online educational resources and webinars. As the preferred certifier for some of the most respected national retailers, we provide you the same first-class customer service that thousands of businesses who trust NSF’s food certification and auditing expertise have come to expect. Our strong industry relationships are a testament to our exemplary customer service, and they help us stay ahead of market trends.

NSF is fully equipped to certify your products wherever you are. We have a global network of hundreds of expert auditors, program managers, inspectors and laboratory staff ready to provide top-notch certification services.

In addition, we can maximize your cost efficiencies and minimize operational disruptions by bundling non-GMO certifications with other label claims, food safety and GFSI certification services such as:

Food Safety

Non-GMO Project Verification

Since 2008, the Non-GMO Project has verified more than 50,000 products from over 3,000 brands as non-GMO. These include food, beverages, baby food and infant formula, body care products, pet products, vitamins and supplements, wholesale ingredients, animal feed and planting seed.

Products that have passed the Non-GMO Project’s independent verification process are issued the “butterfly” seal of approval. The seal assures consumers that these products have been produced according to consensus-based best practices for GMO (genetically modified organism) avoidance.

For more information about the Non-GMO Project, please contact us.

Verification Process

After you have contracted with NSF as your technical administrator and registered with the Non-GMO Project, your dedicated NSF account manager will contact you to begin the four- to five-step verification process. The core requirements of the Non-GMO Project standard are traceability, segregation and testing of “high-risk” ingredients in their raw form, to verify that products do not contain genetically modified ingredients.

Step 1: Application
After contracting with NSF and registering with the Non-GMO Project, you submit to your dedicated NSF account manager detailed information about your product formulas (recipes), the ingredients including the original source crops, manufacturing facilities, third-party certifications, plus other documents required to demonstrate compliance to the standards, such as high-risk ingredient test results.

Step 2: Application Review
An NSF technical evaluator reviews the documents you have submitted. We may ask for clarification or more information during the review.

Step 3: Information Request (if needed)
Using NSF Connect (our online client portal), you are notified of any additional documentation, certifications, affidavits, test results or other information needed to demonstrate compliance.

Step 4: On-Site Audit (if needed)
If applicable, we schedule an on-site audit at the manufacturing facility. We can bundle this audit with other label claim and certification inspections, such as GFSI (SQF and BRC), USDA organic, NSF’s gluten-free, and NSF’s dietary supplement GMP.

Step 5: Verification and Ongoing Compliance
Congratulations! Your products are now Non-GMO Project verified and you can use the butterfly mark!

NSF’s Non-GMO Certification

NSF’s non-GMO certification assures the integrity of non-GMO claims and grows the breadth of non-GMO verified products sold at retail, and non-GMO certified ingredients sold throughout the supply chain. Download the NSF’s non-GMO protocol.

Developed with input from regulatory, industry and non-GMO experts, our program’s basic tenets are consistent with other non-GMO compliance verification programs: segregation, traceability, supplier approval, monitoring and testing. Our program allows businesses access to the global non-GMO market so they can meet growing consumer demands worldwide. Our program’s goal is to drive continuous improvement in the supply of non-GMO agricultural value-added products.

NSF’s non-GMO program provides direction for producers, including ranchers, farmers, processors and manufacturers, to use as a guide for their practices. NSF’s non-GMO protocol has been updated to:

  • Align with the language and terms in the USDA’s National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS), a new rule effective January 1, 2020 which requires food manufacturers, importers and retailers to ensure bioengineered foods are appropriately labeled. This rule prohibits undisclosed genetically modified DNA from being present in the finished product.
  • Streamline the certification process for brands and manufacturers by recognizing USDA organic certification as evidence of meeting NSF’s non-GMO certification requirements. This includes the USDA’s “Made with Organic” category and equivalent organic certifications from other regions such as the EU, Canada, Japan and Korea.
  • Clarify that ingredients derived from GM microorganisms are not acceptable
  • Simplify the certification requirements for clarity, understanding and ease of use

NSF’s non-GMO protocol requires:

  • Finished products with less than 0.9% GM content (5% for animal feed)
  • Livestock lifecycle feed requirements
  • “High-risk” ingredient testing (if applicable on the unprocessed crops such as corn, soy and canola)
  • Annual renewal

Certification Process

Step 1: Application
After a signed quote and contract with NSF, you submit a completed application packet which includes information about your product formulas (recipes), ingredients and their original source materials or crops, manufacturing facilities, third-party certifications and high-risk ingredient test results (if applicable).

Step 2: Application Review
An NSF technical evaluator reviews the documents you have submitted. We may ask for clarification or more information during the review.

Step 3: Information Request (if needed)
Using NSF Connect (our online client portal), you are notified of any additional documentation, certifications, affidavits, test results or other information needed to demonstrate compliance. If applicable, we schedule an on-site audit with your manufacturing facility. We can bundle this inspection with other label claim or certification audits such as USDA organic, NSF’s gluten-free, SQF, BRC or other GFSI standards. 

Step 4: Certification and Ongoing Compliance
Congratulations! Products approved for certification are now eligible to use NSF’s non-GMO certification mark.

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  • Open How soon can I expect to be verified?

    Once NSF has received all of your application documents and payment, you can expect to receive a pre-assessment review letter in three to four weeks. Upon NSF’s receipt of your complete response to the letter, you can expect to receive your verification decision in about eight weeks.

  • Open How do you define a “primary participant”?

    The primary participant is the company that enrolls in the Non-GMO Project’s Product Verification Program. This is the entity that is seeking Non-GMO Project verification and will “own” the verification certificate.

  • Open How do you define the “location seeking verification”?

    This is the physical address of the location seeking verification. The name and address of the location seeking verification should be the same as the company that wishes to own the verification process and certificate, sign a contract with NSF, pay the NSF fees and be the NSF client. The location seeking verification may be the same location as the primary participant. Alternatively, if the primary participant is already enrolled, the location may be an additional location, which is owned by the primary participant.

  • Open How do you define the “primary contact”?

    The primary contact should be the person responsible for the Non-GMO Project program at the location seeking verification. This is the person NSF will contact regarding the verification process.

  • Open How do you define a “brand owner”?

    A brand owner is any entity that owns a specific brand or ID mark and contracts third parties to manufacture products under that brand or ID mark.

    Note: Brand owner that manufacture, process or repack their own product, as well as those that own or manage any of their facilities, should seek verification as a handler and complete the Non-GMO Project Handler Compliance Plan and profile forms.

  • Open What are the brand owner compliance requirements?

    The brand owner compliance requirements are outlined in NSF’s Brand Owner Compliance Plan. Essentially the brand owner must meet the same basic compliance requirements as any Non-GMO Project participant for traceability, compliant inputs and testing. The brand owner must also ensure that all co-packers are either Variance #9 approved co-packers or Non-GMO Project verified participants

  • Open How do you define a co-packer vs. a handler?

    A handler is any production or handling operation seeking verification to sell, label or otherwise represent goods with any Non-GMO Project verified claim.

    A co-packer is a type of handler. However, some co-packers, which co-pack for Non-GMO Project verified brand owners, may be approved to handle Non-GMO Project verified product under Variance #9.

  • Open What are the co-packer requirements?

    Co-packers must be either fully enrolled Non-GMO Project verified participants or Variance #9 approved co-packers.

    Variance #9 approved co-packers must have a contractual relationship with the brand owner/primary participant, produce product of a system (such as organic certification and other identity preservation systems) that has been designed to avoid GMOs and have a defined plan for becoming fully enrolled in the Non-GMO Project Product Verification Program within a defined time frame, not to exceed three years. Alternatively, the brand owner may sponsor the facility survey and on-site inspection for contracted operations.

    For specific details, please see the Non-GMO Project Standard – Variance #9.

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