While laws mandating disclosure of the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on food labels are debated in statehouses, independent organizations such as the Non-GMO Project are offering certification for non-GMO products. NPR tracked how a food company earns the “Verified” label from the Non-GMO Project, beginning with an Iowa-based company called FoodChain ID that guides companies through the process of certification.

FoodChain ID first identifies all of the ingredients in the product—including those not actually listed on the label—such as “all the processing aids, the carriers and all the inputs that go into a product.” It then determines the source of each ingredient and input and individually verifies its seclusion from GMOs. “If there’s honey in cookies, for example,” NPR notes, “the company will have to show that the bees that make the honey aren’t feeding near genetically modified corn. When there’s even the smallest risk that an ingredient could contain a modified gene, DNA testing is in order.” If needed, FoodChain ID can extract and analyze DNA from ingredient samples in its laboratory to test for the presence of GMOs. See NPR, January 20, 2015.