At Agbiolab we have received several inquiries about non-GMO certification of olive oil, mostly from producers who are dealing with retailers that require it. We do provide GMO tests for seed and foods as part of our DNA genetic services, and are aware of the GMO labeling controversy. Here is our attempt to provide some answers to olive oil producers and buyers:
1. The GMO controversy is not related to olive oil. Currently, there are no GMO olive cultivars in any commercial orchard or nursery anywhere in the world.
2. However, enzymes that could be optionally used as adjuvants in olive milling (e.g. pectinases) may or may not be GMO. Therefore, if olives have been processed with no addition of enzymes, consumers may rest assured that the oil produced is GMO-free.
3. Since canola and corn and other seed crops may be GMO, any adulterated olive oil may be GMO.
4. According to the USDA definition of organic foods, any organic olive oil should be non-GMO, since the definition of “organic” precludes the use of GMO adjuvant enzymes in the milling.
The testing of olive oil for non-GMO certification is possible but laborious. Yet, non-GMO food certifications cannot state that the food is entirely GMO free. For instance foods labeled “non-GMO” may lawfully contain very low levels, insignificant or undetectable, of GMO material.
Similarly, a non-GMO label does not mean that the food has been produced solely by non-GMO inputs. For example a pig fed GMO soybean early in its life, but not in the months immediately prior to slaughter, may yield certified, non-GMO-labeled pork meat.
For olive oils, there are no distinctions between GMO-free and non-GMO. Their meaning is exactly the same. The issue is straightforward and certain. If no other oil has been blended in, nor any enzyme adjuvant used in milling, the olive oil produced is truly GMO-free. Therefore, assurances to the prospective buyer, if still in doubt, rest on the authenticity/genuineness of the oil which can be ascertained by chemical tests.