“Our focus has always been on the contamination of the GMO with glyphosate being the primary problem versus just the GMO product,” he told FoodNavigator-USA. “We knew that we needed to do something, however the non-GMO movement through society and marketing just went hyperspeed.”
But Prentice said that as his company sent out feelers and received feedback from manufacturers and even testing labs, there seemed to be growing demand for a seal certifying that a product had been tested for glyphosate traces. They set the procedures and threshold for allowable glyphosate in products to receive the seal last year (which is zero), and finally launched its Non Glyphosate Certified seal last month.
To qualify, companies will be connected to one of BioChecked's partner labs for product testing, and they also have to provide a list of all the suppliers and sources of ingredients. Prentice said that if based on the list there is a supplier or ingredient that will be difficult to test for glyphosate traces, BioChecked can decline to continue the process and offer the seal.
BioChecked, which started as a certifier for the environmental friendliness of farm and agriculture facilities in the Midwest and West, shifted gears to certify products in the food sector in early 2010. Staffed by around 6 people and several contract consultants around the nation, the compact company has kept a low profile, competing against certifying giant Non-GMO Project for a GMO-free certification, as well as offering other certifications such as 100% Grass-Fed Beef.
Glyphosate, yay or nay?
The safety of glyphosate and traces of it has stirred some disagreement in the food industry. Though the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as a ‘probable carcinogen,’ the WHO/FAO committee as well as European Food Safety Authority have declared that glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer.
There is some discussion on whether or not glyphosate can impair bee’s cognitive capacity and harm the world’s bee population. Glyphosate was considered ‘relatively safe’ for bees because it kills less than 1% bees at the field use of rate, according to a study by USDA scientists.
However, a study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology in 2015 by researchers in Germany and Argentina found that exposure to glyphosate impaired bee’s “spatial information for a successful return to the hive.”
This has prompted honey company Heavenly Organics, BioChecked’s first client, to undergo the testing processes and stamp a Non-Glyphosate Certified seal on its products. “Right now we’ve got three in the process…one from another honey company, and the other two are in the area of soft drinks” Prentice said about requests for the one-month old certification program.
“We’re excited about it. We don’t know how it’s going to go, but we do know we’re one of the first in the industry to launch a glyphosate-free certification,” he said.