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With consumer interest in the genetic modification of fruits and vegetables continuing to mount, Mastronardi Produce has received a certificate of compliance from the Non-GMO Project Verification Program, a standardized program that is based on third-party verification of products following best practices for GMO avoidance.

The program was initiated by the North American organic and natural products industry for companies that want to offer their customers a verified non-GMO choice.

"We strictly rely upon natural plant breeding and Mother Nature to develop our many product varieties. We are proud to only offer vegetable and fruit products that come from non-genetically modified sources," Joseph R. Darden, vice president of food safety for Mastronardi, said in a Feb. 1 press release. "All Mastronardi Produce products are started from seed stock that is not genetically modified. Mastronardi does not work with suppliers that use microbiological or biochemical processes to alter the genetic expression of any part of the plant or the foods that they produce."

National polls consistently show that a significant majority of North Americans would like to be able to tell if the food they are purchasing contains GMOs (a 2008 CBS News Poll found that 87 percent of consumers wanted GMOs labeled). According to a recent CBS/New York Times poll, 53 percent of consumers said they would not buy food that has been genetically modified. The Non-GMO Project's seal for verified products will, for the first time, give the public an opportunity to make an informed choice when it comes to GMOs.

Mastronardi Produce, which markets product under its "Sunset" line, will be releasing new packaging and labels later this year that will display the Non- GMO seal. This seal on a package indicates that the products have been produced according to rigorous best practices for GMO avoidance, including all required testing.

"We are proud of the fact that our gourmet greenhouse produce is now verified non-GMO," Paul Mastronardi, president, added in the press release. "All of our products are from plant hybrids that reproduce the old-fashioned way: by natural plant breeding."