Working Together Through the COVID-19 Crisis — a letter from our Executive Director

Last night, as I sat listening to the exuberant chorus of spring peepers from the pond in my backyard, I was struck by how full of paradox the world feels right now. Here in Bellingham, WA, our daily lives have completely changed. We moved all of our Non-GMO Project staff to virtual work 10 days ago and we are in the strange process of creating new daily rhythms that don’t include offices, schools, restaurants, or any social gatherings.

At the same time that all of this isolation is occurring, our interconnectedness has never been more palpable. When I started the Non-GMO Project nearly 14 years ago, I was driven by a burning desire to empower people with food choices that honor the truth of our dependence on nature, reinstating more respect and integrity into the relational process of eating. Like many of you, I felt incredulous about all of the ways that humans ignore our interconnectedness with each other and with nature, and scared about what that would cost future generations. In recent times there has been such an escalation in wake up calls to come into right relationship with our planet and with all of life. As the messages come through louder and clearer, I believe it is incumbent upon each of us to listen as best we can. What is here to be learned? What is being asked of us? What are the changes we need to make, and the calls we need to heed?

At the Non-GMO Project, this includes work we have been doing for the past year to develop a 10-year strategic plan that challenges us to think bigger about what we can contribute to empowering people to care for themselves, the planet, and future generations. That work feels more urgent than ever, and I look forward to sharing details in the coming months.

At the same time that we all need to attend with more sincerity to the big picture, this pandemic obviously also brings a tremendous amount of urgency to many immediate details of how we need to adapt our daily lives and the running of our businesses. To that end, the Non-GMO Project has formed a COVID-19 task force to assess and mitigate impacts to our Product Verification Program (PVP). We will be following up by publishing interim guidelines and policies to our Technical Administrators next week in order to support our PVP participants in navigating product verification during this unpredictable time. We’ll also continue to communicate with our PVP participants directly in order to ensure you’re aware of the steps we’re taking to weather this storm together.

In the meantime, I hope that you are finding moments in these uncertain days to honor and be nourished by interconnectedness. May we all take good care of each other, and of this beautiful, precious planet.

With Love,

Megan Westgate