The Non-GMO Project was created because people had questions about genetically modified organisms. In the years before the Project was founded, now-Executive Director Megan Westgate worked at a food co-op. "We were seeing in stores that increasingly people were coming in and looking for non-GMO choices," she says. "They were having a hard time figuring out which food was GMO and which wasn't."
In 2007, GMOs were becoming prevalent in the supply chain and shoppers wanted clear, reliable information about how their food was produced. Two grocers in particular — The Natural Grocery Company in Berkeley, California and The Big Carrot Natural Food Market in Toronto, Ontario — led the brainstorming. How could they provide their communities with reliable information? What might a transparent, rigorous third-party certification program for GMO avoidance look like?
Fifteen years later, we've all come a long way. Awareness of the GMO issue is nearly universal at *97% and the Non-GMO Project has grown to meet demand.
Today, we provide:
- Verification for more than 66,000 products
- Partnerships with thousands of brands through the Product Verification Program
- Ongoing education and outreach for the public
- Continued monitoring of new developments in biotechnology
It's our job to make sure your interests are served, but it is your interest that drives this movement.
If it weren't for you, this Butterfly would never have gotten off the ground.
More shoppers than ever are looking for natural foods and non-GMO choices. That kind of collective action gets noticed — major food brands and retailers recognize that their customers are prioritizing a healthy, natural, and non-GMO food supply, and they're changing their operations accordingly.
Big fish going non-GMO: Walmart, Costco and more join boycott of GMO salmon
For example, the first generation of genetically engineered AquAdvantage salmon was harvested and sold to U.S. seafood suppliers in May, 2021. Containing DNA from three different types of fish — Atlantic salmon, Chinook salmon, and the eel-like ocean pout — AquAdvantage salmon are genetically engineered to grow twice as fast as natural salmon while consuming less feed.
While those salmon were growing in island pens at freakish speed, the voices of concerned citizens and environmental groups moved 80 companies with more than 18,000 locations to boycott the GMO fish. At the national level, the boycott includes 8 of the top 10 grocery chains in the country: Walmart, Costco, Kroger, Albertsons, Ahold Delhaize, H-E-B, Meijer and Target. More regional chains, chefs, restaurants and seafood suppliers have also pledged not to carry GMO salmon.
McDonald's + Beyond Meat: Fast food giant says no to new GMOs
Driven by individual choices at the grassroots level, collective action has spurred corporate action, catching the attention of some of the biggest boardrooms in the world. For example, McDonald's has opted for non-GMO ingredients in some of its latest and greatest products.
When the golden arches joined the plant-based protein craze with their new McPlant, they worked with Non-GMO Project Verified brand Beyond Meat to come up with the recipe. And their french fries — which are one of the most popular fast food menu items of all time — are made with non-GMO spuds rather than the genetically modified "Innate" potatoes that were created by one of their biggest suppliers. McDonald's issued a statement when GMO potatoes came on the market: “McDonald’s USA does not source GMO potatoes nor do we have current plans to change our sourcing practice."
As the sign says, McDonald's serves billions of meals. Expanding their use of non-GMO ingredients indicates growing commitment to non-GMO and shows they are listening to their customers.
Your support for the Butterfly is changing how retailers and restaurants choose what they carry — and that changes the food system.
GMOs — new and old — have no place in our food supply
Working with a wide range of brands helps Non-GMO Project Verification increase non-GMO acreage and build a non-GMO supply chain, reducing pesticide use and supporting biodiversity in local ecosystems. In 2016, our partnership with Dannon led to the dairy company's commitment to go non-GMO with their top-selling yogurt brands. To reach this goal, 80,000 acres were planted with non-GMO crops for livestock feed.
Today, new GMO products made with emerging techniques are entering the food supply — and many of them bypass the Bioengineered Food Labeling law. It's more important than ever to shop for the food system you want to see. The Non-GMO Project Butterfly remains the most trusted and rigorous third-party certification for avoiding GMOs, new and old.
So, whether you visit big chains to find big brands or search out local, independent producers in your area, rest assured that every action is part of a larger movement towards the food system we are creating for future generations. With your choices, you've already inspired change in a global movement toward an equitable and regenerative food system.
In the words of Executive Director Megan Westgate:
"We are all connected in ways that make it possible to make big changes through small but important choices. That includes the food we buy, and also what we give back to the Earth and to each other."
The Non-GMO Project is honored to continue to serve you and your families.
*Source: Organic and Beyond Report ⓒ 2020, The Hartman Group, Inc.