October 2012 marks the third annual Non-GMO Month, and the celebration could not be more timely. Recent polls show that more than 90% of Americans want to know whether or not their food contains GMOs, and 2012 has seen a groundswell in the “right to know” movement. In the past year, over 1.2 million Americans have contacted the FDA asking them to implement mandatory labeling of GMO foods, and more than a dozen states have taken up GMO labeling bills, including a voter initiative in California that puts mandatory GMO labeling on this November’s ballot.
While consumers fight for their right to know at the polls, the Non-GMO Project is providing shoppers with an immediate solution to the presence of unlabeled GMOs. As the only third party non-GMO verification in North America, the Non-GMO Project Verified seal is quickly gaining popularity. It’s now the fastest growing label claim in the natural products industry with more than 6,000 Non-GMO Project Verified products and close to $3 billion in annual sales.
Public concern about GMOs is rising as studies increasingly raise doubts about the long-term safety and environmental impact of this experimental technology. Genetic engineering forces DNA from one species into the DNA of a different species, resulting in unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or through traditional breeding.
“The right to know what we’re eating and feeding our families is so basic,” says Megan Westgate, Executive Director of the non-profit Non-GMO Project, which started Non-GMO Month. “Americans deserve the same freedom to avoid experimental GMO foods as people in other countries.” GMO labeling is mandatory in 49 other countries around the world, including Australia, Russia, China, and all of Europe, but no such requirements exist in the U.S.
In this regulatory void, it’s more important than ever for individuals to take action in support of a safe, healthy food supply. Non-GMO Month is a perfect time to celebrate your right to choose non-GMO. Here are a few of our favorite ways to make a difference!
- Find a Non-GMO Month Retailer near you. More than 1,300 natural food stores across the U.S. and Canada are participating in Non-GMO Month this year. These retailers are offering clear labeling, educational materials, and great deals on verified products. Show your support for their efforts by shopping at their stores and thanking them for being part of Non-GMO Month!
- Enter the Non-GMO Month Daily Giveaway Contest. Every day during October, enter the Non-GMO Month Daily Giveaway for your chance to win great prizes from Non-GMO Project Verified brands. The Giveaway Contest also features donations made in your name to organizations doing important work in the non-GMO movement.
- Help your friends and family learn about their right to know. Download the Non-GMO Project’s free trifold brochure of GMO FAQs and print out a few copies for your friends and families. It will help them learn the basics about GMOs and also features a handy list of crops and ingredients at high risk for GMO contamination.
- Choose Non-GMO Project Verified products. Keep an eye out for the Non-GMO Project Verified seal on products, and use our online shopping guide and iPhone app to help you find verified products. Maybe you’ll swap out one GMO risk product with a verified one, or maybe you’ll decide to make every breakfast this month totally non-GMO. Or perhaps you’ll decide to go totally non-GMO for the whole month. When you choose Non-GMO Project Verified products, it has a positive impact on the entire supply chain. If we stop eating GMOs, producers will stop using them (just like they already have for the products they sell in Europe and many other countries).
- Educate yourself. Did you know that researchers in France just published peer-reviewed research showing that Roundup herbicide and GMO Roundup Ready crops can cause tumours, multiple organ damage and lead to premature death? For the most comprehensive, up-to-date resource on the web for news like this about the GMO issue, check out the Non-GMO Project’s Facebook page. If you’re not on Facebook, you can watch the home page of the Project’s website for the same news feed.
- Support mandatory GMO labeling efforts. If you live in California, be sure to vote for prop 37 this November, and tell your community about it! If you live in another state, find out if there are any mandatory labeling efforts in the works that you can support. And no matter where you live, be sure you’ve signed the Just Label It petition to the FDA!
- Engage a young friend with our Non-GMO Month coloring page. Kids have a right to know what they’re eating, too! And protecting a non-GMO food supply for future generations is especially important. Download our Non-GMO Month coloring page and use it as an opportunity to talk to your children or other young people in your life about the GMO issue.
- Host or attend an event. Check out the Non-GMO Month events calendar, and consider adding an event of your own. One powerful but easy idea? Host a film screening in your living room. Invite friends over to watch Genetic Roulette or The Future of Food and serve Non-GMO Project Verified snacks!
Have other ideas? We’d love to hear them. Wishing you an inspiring, empowering Non-GMO Month. Together we CAN protect a safe, healthy non-GMO food supply for future generations!