As I head off to the IFOAM Conference in Istanbul, I reflect that October is celebrated as Non-GMO Month. Celebrate we should, the Non-GMO Project has made many remarkable gains. Annual sales of products carrying the Non-GMO Project Verified seal now total more than $8.5 billion, growing more than 20% annually! My local New Leaf Store in Santa Cruz is one of more than 2,000 retailers who are participating in the celebration, bringing awareness and eliminating the presence of GMO ingredients in our food supply.
This is especially important in light of the new Consumers Report tests that found GMO ingredients in many processed and packaged food, including those labeled as natural! When you purchase breakfast cereals, chips, soy infant formulas, and many “NATURAL” products that aren’t organic or Non-GMO Project Verified, it is almost certain that GMOs lurk inside.
The success of the Non-GMO Verified initiative has grown the awareness of consumers who are asking retailers to give them information about the products they buy. At this time, more than 22,000 Non-GMO Project Verified products, representing more than 2,100 brands, are available to give consumers that knowledge. As more independent retailers, co-ops, chains and conventional markets join the movement, change is happening throughout the entire supply chain. Demand for non-GMO commodity crops is at an all-time high and many manufactures are scrambling to find non-GMO ingredients. It is progress!
Even as we celebrate these wins, there is a David and Goliath battle raging at the state level in Oregon and Colorado. Despite surveys that show over 70% of consumers want mandatory GMO labeling, an enormous amount of money is being poured into anti-GMO campaigns in these two states to fight that knowledge. The battle between the Goliaths’ of the biotech industry and the small companies and consumers is raging right in front of us.
In Oregon, the same likely suspects like Monsanto, PepsiCo and Kraft Foods have poured $5.7 MILLION into the anti-labeling propaganda campaign. Almost 100% is from outside state donors trying to influence the decision. You can track this information with Oregon Lives’ new GMO interactive map and searchable database. It is quite revealing!
Colorado’s state initiative proposition 105 would also require mandatory labeling. The inequity of the battle is even more pronounced there. The “No on 105 Committee” has raised almost $10 million. Monsanto contributed $4.7 million, while PepsiCo and Kraft Foods contributed over $1 million each. The Right to Know GMO, have raised only $323,000 to combat the propaganda and misinformation! David and Goliath indeed!
In my opinion, it’s time for the folks who brought us products such as 2-4,D and Round-Up to stop fighting the very consumers that purchase their products. In 64 countries across the globe GMO’s are labeled. Those same food companies such as PepsiCo and Kraft Foods have figured out how to produce their products without GMO’s and sell them in those countries. Why not here? What have they got to hide? What is driving them to spend millions of dollars to defeat transparency in labeling on their products?
You can donate to the Oregon Right to Know Campaign, Yes on 92 and get involved with their activities. The Oregon Nurses Association, Friends of Family Farmers, and many others support Measure 92. You can view a full list of the local supporters by clicking here.
The Colorado Right to Know, Yes on 105 also has a vigorous grassroots movement that you can be part of. Donate and volunteer to help get the word out!
The facts are before us: the long-term health effects of genetically engineered foods have never been studied! The same chemical companies that genetically engineer food made DDT and Agent Orange, and claimed they were safe too. Increasingly more dangerous poisons are being used to combat superweeds as a result!
Let’s celebrate the Non-GMO Project and buy the many products they certify and always choose organic if you can. Let’s keep our heads, hearts and pocketbooks in the David and Goliath battle. We have passion and truth on our side.