by Tandis Bishop

Down to Earth is celebrating Non-GMO Month by putting a wide variety of non-GMO products on sale from Thursday, October 10th through Wednesday, November 13th. Customers can see which items are on sale by viewing our Super Saver Flyer Deals online. The flyer is also distributed in our stores. Look for these special signs featuring the Non-GMO Seal. 

Food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is the result of a laboratory process where genes are taken from one species and inserted into another in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic. GMOs are also known as genetically engineered-, bio-engineered-, biotech crops, or transgenic organisms.

As consumer awareness has drastically grown over the past few years about the unknown health and environmental hazards from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), so has the demand for non-GMO food products and consumers’ demand to label GMO food.

GMOs Stir Uproar in Hawaii

Worldwide the concern about GMOs continues to rise. Not only is there concern about uncertain health effects of consuming GMOS, but there is also the concern about the chemical farming practices that are harmful to humans and the environment. Here in Hawaii, with five of the largest chemical biotech companies using thousands of acres as GMO test fields, local residents' objection to their use of pesticides has made national headlines. Just this week Kauai County Council has passed Bill 2491 that will set up buffer zones around housing communities, schools, medical facilities, public roadways and water facilities. It will also require mandatory disclosure of any use of more than 15 gallons of restricted pesticides annually. The Big Island of Hawaii is also very close to passing Bill 113 that will actually be a GMO ban on any new GMO crops or testing fields. GMO papaya and corn that already exists on the island will continued to be allowed. The Bill passed its first reading 10/16/13 with a vote 6 in favor to 2 no votes. The second reading will be in early November.

States Continue Introducing GMO Labeling Bills

The uproar of consumer demand has been growing for some time. In March of 2012, a petition with over one million signatures demanding labeling of GMOs was delivered to the FDA, and the list of supporters has only continued to grow. In fall of 2012, Kaiser Permanente published an article in one of their newsletters advising consumers to reduce their exposure to GMO foods.1 And in November 2012, nearly half of California voters voted in favor of Proposition 37, which called for mandatory GMO labeling. This was an overwhelming turnout despite the $45 million spent by GMO companies to fight Prop 37. The ads depicted farmers, politicians, and scientists claiming GMO labeling would be detrimental to business, confusing and costly to consumers, and counterproductive to research. Although the measure did not pass, it raised unprecedented awareness, and 30 other states are now working on mandatory labeling initiatives.2 Washington State now waits in the balance with GMO Labeling Bill I-522. Biotech companies are doing exactly what they did in California to defeat this Bill by pouring millions of dollars into opposing propaganda. November 4th all eyes will be on Washington as we wait to see if the peoples' right to know prevails.

Introduced in 1996, the genetic engineering of plants and animals today looms as one of the greatest and most intractable environmental and health challenges of the 21st Century. With promises of making more and supposedly “better” food, this new technology has invaded our farmlands, grocery stores, and our kitchen pantries by fundamentally altering some of our most important staple food crops.

As of 2011, 88% of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as are 94% of soy, 95% of sugar beets, 90% of canola oil, 90% of cotton, and about 80% of Hawaiian papaya.3 Everything including bread, cereal, frozen pizza, soup, soda – all sorts of processed foods – now contain genetically engineered ingredients. Dairy products from cows treated with a genetically modified hormone, rBGH, are also a common source of GMOs. Because there are no laws mandating that these ingredients must be labeled as genetically modified, many consumers are purchasing and eating genetically modified ingredients without knowing it.

Mexico Bans GMOs Outright

The government and GMO industry claim that GMO crops are safe for human consumption and the environment. According to them we don’t need to know, so no labeling is required. The FDA has rejected labeling of GMO foods since their commercialization in 1992. By contrast, labeling is required in countries including the 27 member nations of the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Brazil, and China. Some countries have even banned GMOs outright. Mexico is the latest to announce a ban on GMO corn. Judge Jaime Eduardo Verdugo, of Mexico City ordered a mandatory ban on 10/15/13, effective immediately. Judge Verdugo states that the corn posed, “the risk of imminent harm to the environment”.

Today, never have there been more biochemists, biologists, agriculturalists, environmentalists, physicians, dietitians, and even genetic engineering researchers speaking out about the potential adverse health effects and environmental harm associated with the genetic engineering of our food supply – and our right to know. Down to Earth joins the call for GMO labeling so that, if we want, we can choose not to eat GMOs. Our right to know what is in the food we are buying and our right to choose our preferred food should not be usurped for any reason. And so, in celebration of Non-GMO Month, we want you to take advantage of your “right to know” by offering savings on Non-GMO Verified products!

Footnotes: 
  1. Prevention. Kaiser Permanente Highlights Risks of Genetically Modified Foods. November 2012.
  2. Forbes. GMO Labeling Proponents Look to Farm Bill. November 2012. https://www.forbes.com/sites/amywestervelt/2012/11/13/with-california-pr...
  3. USDA Economic Research Service, "Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S."