October 1, 2013 (updated)
Genetic Modification is a technique that changes the genetic makeup of cells, producing new combinations of genes and traits that do not occur in nature. Plants and animals that have been altered in this way are called GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, or GE, genetically engineered.
Our efforts began in 2001, when we determined that, given a choice, our customers would prefer to eat foods and beverages made without the use of genetically engineered ingredients. When developing products containing ingredients likely to come from genetically modified sources, we have the supplier of the product perform the necessary research to provide documentation that the suspect ingredients are from non-GMO sources. This documentation is in the form of affidavits, identity-preserved certification of seed stock, and third-party lab results from testing of the ingredients in question. In addition to this work done in developing a given item, we conduct random audits of items with potentially suspect ingredients, using an outside, third-party lab to perform the testing.
Given our position on GMO ingredients in Trader Joe's label products, and the work done in support of that position, it is our expectation that our products test as non-GMO. We're unable to make the same claims for branded products (products not in the Trader Joe's label).
We are also unable to confirm that animal products (meat, dairy and some farmed fish) sold under the Trader Joe's label are raised on only non-GMO feed, due to the prevalence of GMOs in the commodity grain market, and the limited availability of verified non-GMO feed. For customers looking to avoid products from animals fed GMOs, we continue to carry organic meat and dairy products (organic standards prohibit the intentional use of GMOs) and wild-caught seafood. All organic products, regardless of brand, are by definition non-GMO.
We have yet to take the approach of labeling products as non-GMO because there are no clear guidelines from the US governmental agencies covering food and beverage labeling. Instead of waiting for such guidelines to be put into effect, and based upon customer feedback, we took a more holistic approach and made the no GMO ingredients position part of what the Trader Joe's label encompasses.