Non-GMO Month — our signature annual event — goes back into hibernation as October comes to a close. Now in its second decade, Non-GMO Month celebrates our right to choose whether or not to consume GMOs. Traditionally, it's been a time for our retail partners to connect with their communities as families head into the darkened days of fall and the well-lit tables of holiday feasting. This year’s event has truly been like no other: In the age of social-distancing, the Non-GMO Project found new partners and new ways to connect meaningfully.
Back to the future of Non-GMO Month
Just as birthday parties and book clubs the world over went online this year, so did Non-GMO Month. More than 400 retailers signed up to participate, accessing ready-to-post content for their websites and social media, as well as beautiful printable content for their stores. Focusing on a virtual event has been a great way to share information while drastically reducing waste and maintaining a lighter lift for the excellent and essential grocery store staff.
Celebrating new partnerships: Fair Trade Month
Did you know that October is both Non-GMO Month AND Fair Trade Month? We proudly partnered with a fellow mission-driven non-profit, Fairtrade America, to celebrate our shared values for a thriving food system. After all, food is a basic necessity, but it’s also a social and economic engine, driving cycles of prosperity or poverty depending on how it functions. Since the international fair trade movement began in 1989, Fairtrade America has developed a rigorous and transparent Standard with meaningful regulations. What does the Fairtrade certification mean? Fairtrade ensures that farmers and farm workers in the global South are compensated fairly for their work, that the local environment is protected, and that child labor is banned. A truly sustainable food system nourishes producers as well as end consumers: Fair Trade Month recognizes and celebrates that fact. (For more inspiration, check out this beautiful series of murals commissioned by Fairtrade America, sharing the stories of the producers, stores and communities that feed us. Fairtrade, we like your style!)
Face masks: We wear because we care.
In partnership with Fairtrade America, we distributed more than 5,000 co-branded, Fairtrade Certified, non-GMO and organic cotton face masks to retailers, free of charge. Each mask is soft and snuggly, a welcome accompaniment as the cold weather nips at our noses. These masks are like a hug for your face, but the kind of hug where we want you to stay healthy (so, better than a real hug at this time). If you missed out on the masks at your local grocery store, head to our online store to pick one up while supplies last!
ICYMI: Rachel Parent hosts expert panel on GMOs
Earlier this month, Non-GMO Project executive director Megan Westgate joined youth activist Rachel Parent and a truly powerhouse panel of experts to discuss the past, present, and future of the food system. We all learned something new as they discussed the scientific, environmental, economic and social risks of new genetic engineering techniques like CRISPR. As Non-GMO and Fair Trade Month comes to an end, we’re struck by how those impacts are mirrored in the highest ambitions of our October events:
- The rights of farmers and consumers to choose what they grow and eat
- The potential of our food system to become an ally in the preservation of biodiversity and environmental health
- The choice that lies with each of us to choose the future we want, for generations to come
While we have faced a lot this year, we’ve found that when we work together and support each other, we can accomplish a great deal! In that spirit, here is a nugget of wisdom and optimism from panelist Jim Thomas of ETC Group:
“A lot of that has happened at an accelerated rate in the last half a year… People making sure that they're getting their food from places they can trust: Farmers, locally growing, connecting to the soil and seed. I think that is an extremely good thing.”
You can watch a recording of the event on our YouTube channel.