What does non-GMO have to do with beef?

The term “non-GMO” is thrown around a lot in the food industry, but what does it mean when you see it on beef packaging? 

Jun 11, 2023

The term “non-GMO” is thrown around a lot in the food industry, but what does it mean when you see it on beef packaging? 

The term refers not to the cattle, but to the feed they are given or the grasses they are grazed on. American Farmers Network prioritizes sourcing 100% grass-fed, grass-finished beef from ranchers who prohibit genetically modified feed ingredients in their raising practices.

Many conventional grass-fed models use alfalfa to increase energy in their cattle and stimulate growth, however almost alll alfalfa available for feed is genetically modified. For this reason, AFN does not allow alfalfa to be fed to cattle on any ranch they source from. AFNs protocols include a list of almost 100 other ingredients and feed types that can not be included in their feeding programs due to their traditionally genetically modified status.

Despite being very intentional about their feed protocols, ranchers that work with AFN are at risk of being geographically located next to a farm that may produce genetically modified crops. A simple wind can blow over genetically modified seeds, stems and leaves. If the cattle eats those remnants, they could be disqualified from the AFN program. For this reason, AFN tests the soil on each ranch every six months to make sure the grass is not contaminated. They are dedicated to taking the extra measures to mitigate risk and ensure a consistent, clean product is delivered. 

As part of this careful audit process, about half of AFNs ranchers have been Non-GMO Project Verified and more are in line to receive the prestigious certification. AFN is the only domestic supplier of its size to be able to offer Non-GMO Project Verified beef.

This, of course, is not the easy way, but it is the right way. Each rancher has to go through rigorous adjustments to their program and maintain exceptional consistency. AFN is proud to help keep these ranchers in business and put the health and nutrition of the animals, and therefore the beef, front and center.


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