Considerations for “GMO Free” Forage Programs

Joe Lawrence, Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY

The interest in labeling dairy products as “GMO Free” is gaining momentum, which has led to a number of questions from dairy farmers and their input suppliers regarding what adjustments are needed in their home-grown forage programs and purchased feeds to meet market requirements for “GMO Free” milk.

While no dairy milk is genetically modified, non-GMO campaigns have focused on the presence of genetically modified ingredients in the diet fed to dairy cows. Since there is no way to test the milk or meat of an animal to determine if the animal consumed feeds containing genetically modified ingredients, farmers who want to ship “GMO free” milk will be subject to the testing of their feed ingredients by a GMO-Free verifying agency.


In the current milk production environment farmers may choose to produce milk meeting GMO free standards to attain a price premium. Or, in some cases, need to make this adjustment to assure they continue to have a market for their milk.

In either case, there are a number of considerations about implications and management adjustments needed to meet “GMO free” milk standards. Since there are numerous definitions for “GMO Free” dairy products it is critical that a farmer work closely with the coop or processor buying their milk to assure they are meeting the specific definition of “GMO Free” being used for that product.

Considerations related to producing “GMO Free” milk will be discussed at the 2017 Cornell Nutrition Conference held October 17 through 19 in Syracuse, NY.