Think ghosts and goblins are spooky? You have one more reason to be spooked in October: the next generation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are coming to a store near you. GMOs are organisms created by combining the DNA from different species to form combinations of plants, animals, bacteria and viral genes. GMOs do not occur in nature or result from traditional crossbreeding. Despite the lack of evidence that genetically modifying our food supply is safe and effective, genetic engineering practices continue. Moreover, new and scarier versions of food continue to appear on our store shelves.
Thanks to the Non-GMO Project, however, we have access to 50,123 non-GMO verified products (up from 43,623 last year) and that number is growing every day. Since 2007, this non-profit organization’s mission has been to build and preserve the non-GMO food supply; educate the public about GMOs; and provide third-party-verified, non-GMO food choices to consumers.
When you purchase food items with the ‘NON GMO Project Verified’ label on it, you can be assured that the product has undergone a rigorous, third party verification process that meets the Non GMO Project Standard.
October is non-GMO Month, when Martindale’s proudly joins the Non-GMO Project and more than 14,000 registered North American retailers to raise awareness of this important movement and celebrate with you.
Why Are GMOs in Our Food Supply, Anyway?
GMOs were first developed in 1997 to increase crop yield, enhance tolerance to drought and improve nutrition. However, there is no evidence that GMOs deliver any of these improvements. On the contrary, increasing evidence connects GMOs with health issues, environmental harm and violation of farmers’ rights.
Today, more than 80% of processed foods in North America are genetically engineered to tolerate herbicides. Unfortunately, farmers’ use of toxic herbicides such as glyphosate has increased fifteen times since GMOs were first introduced. In addition, genetically modified crops have helped to create herbicide-resistant superweeds and superbugs that require even more toxic poisons to control them.
More than 60 countries, including Australia, Russia and China, and all of the European Union (EU) countries require labeling of all GMO foods. Globally, 300 regions ban the growth of GMOs. The United States, on the other hand, supports the continued development and use of GMOs, does not require any labeling and is expanding the GMO experiment.
Brave New World of GMOs
The Non-GMO Project lists crops and ingredients at high risk for containing GMOs. The most common genetically engineered crops are alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, papaya, soy, sugar beets, zucchini and yellow summer squash. In addition to verifying non-GMO foods, the organization also monitors foods at risk of contamination from GMOs and crops with cross-pollination risk.
GMOs affect more than crops, however. They also impact animal products, including eggs, milk, meat, honey and seafood. And they creep into foods as processed crop derivatives, among them, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, corn syrup, molasses, textured vegetable protein, flavorings, oils and sweeteners.
A New Breed of GMOs
Although the Non-GMO Project movement has made tremendous strides to educate consumers and identify safe foods, its work has just begun and must continue. Companies are experimenting with genetic engineering practices such as CRISPR gene editing, synthetic biology and more to alter the natural DNA of organisms. Among those experiments are:
- Hornless cattle
- CRISPR terminator cattle that will father only male offspring
- Chicken eggs engineered to contain a pharmaceutical agent
The following GMO-modified products are now available online or in stores:
- Arctic Apples ™ with genes silenced so apples don’t turn brown.
- AquAdvantage™ Salmon genetically engineered with genes of an eel to grow faster.
- Impossible™ Burger made with genetically engineered proteins, including some that have never been in the food supply.
- EverSweet™ sweetener made with genetically engineered yeast.
What You Can Do
Don’t be spooked – take action! Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Visit the Non-GMO Project website for lists of thousands of food items that are verified non-GMO and the many ways you can get involved.
Become an educated shopper. Download the FREE shopping app that enables you to scan product bar codes to see if they are non-GMO verified.
Request a product verification. Have a product on your non-GMO wish list? Make your request known.
Win free stuff. Check out the daily giveaways from participating brands on the Non-GMO Project website.
Go social. With the non-GMO Project Facebook page and Twitter feed.