After two years of development work, Nutrasource is starting to talk about its IGEN (International Genetically modified Evaluation and Notification) program, with William Rowe, President and CEO, giving a presentation at 12pm on Friday, March 6th at the Marriott Hotel during Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim.
“The interest in the program from the dietary supplement industry is off the charts,” Rowe told NutraIngredients-USA. “Our goal is to have a cost-effective, evidence-based, testing-first certification program. It will be timely and technically robust.”
Rowe is unsurprisingly guarded with many of the program’s details ahead of his Anaheim presentation, and noted that the program is in a key validation phase.
“We have been working closely with the DS Industry Group to develop an appropriate testing and certification program that meets their needs. We expect the program may become international in scope since this is a global issue.”
At Expo West, Rowe will present an overview of the IGEN program and details of its industry pilot phase. ‘This will allow the key brands, early adopters and ingredient suppliers to learn about the program and familiarize themselves with the testing process, and allow us to further refine the program.”
The company has been working on the program for about two years when Rowe started seeing non-GMO messaging taking over trade show floors. “I asked myself, ‘in terms of a testing-based solution for finished products, what is there? Our team then worked diligently to assess and develop what the best techniques and pathway would be to fill that gap.’”
NDI has been able to learn a lot from its successful IFOS program for fish oil and omega-3 products, now in its 11th year. The program tests hundreds of finished products for nutritional quality, contaminants and stability and delivers the testing results to the consumer in free consumer notification reports on the company’s website www.ifosprogram.com.
“Compared to GMO testing, fish oil is relatively standardized and the upper tolerance limits and related testing methods are well established and internationally recognized and accepted,” said Rowe. Testing for GMOs in finished consumer products, however, is “a very new and frontier concept requiring extensive research and additional understanding,” he said. “The IGEN program’s pilot phase will continue to answer these questions for various product types across the dietary supplement spectrum.”
“The basis for our whole program is about testing finished products as the starting point and then working backwards,” said Rowe. “The IGEN program will be a top-down approach.”
So what’s driving this “off the charts” interest? “We see a lot of companies and brands wanting to get ahead of this issue, and based on feedback from our customers, they simply want to authentically message about non-GMO status of their products. We are introducing a program and a tool to do just that. IGEN is really about transparency.”