What is IGEN
IGEN stands for the International Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) Evaluation and Notification Program. Its aim is to verify label claims about the presence of GMOs in products and ingredients.
Launched in 2016 , IGEN has certified over 100 products and counting. Products are either certified as “Non-GMO Tested,” certifying that the finished product does not contain any GMO markers, or “Non-GMO Certified,” which traces all ingredients back to source.
What are GMOs?
GMO is an acronym for genetically modified organism. GMOs are produced by a process called genetic engineering, which involves transferring a gene from one organism to another. This modifies the recipient’s DNA in a way that would not likely occur in nature.
GMOs are used in modern agriculture to change a plant’s physical characteristics, such as disease tolerance or resistance to herbicides and pesticides. This helps farmers increase crop yield and improve plant survival. GMO food crops are now a staple in North America.
Common GMO plants used in the food supply include:
- Maize (corn)
- Sugar beet
Any food or dietary supplement product made with ingredients derived from genetically engineered crops are considered to contain GMOs. Some products could be produced directly from a GMO crop, such as corn chips manufactured from GMO corn, while others could be made with an ingredient that was derived from a GMO crop, such as maltodextrin from corn or lecithin from soybeans.
While there is no conclusive evidence that GMOs have a direct or immediate effect on human health, many are concerned about the long-term health and environmental impacts of genetic engineering. As a result, consumers are demanding that GMO products be labelled so they can make informed choices about the products they buy.
What does IGEN Test for?
IGEN certifies a variety of product types, from herbal supplements and vitamins to food ingredients, to make sure they do not contain GMO genes and proteins found in common bioengineered crops.
These markers include:
- Transgenic proteins involved in certain types of genetic engineering (e.g., Cry1Ab, Cry1F, NPTII)
- DNA elements used in genetic engineering (e.g., P35S/CaMV, TNOS/A. tumefaciens)