Photo: Mark Fergusson

by Mark Fergusson

Ua Mau ke Ea o ka 'Âina i ka Pono, "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness," Hawaii’s state motto, is attributed to King Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III, who said these words on the historic occasion of the restoration of the Hawaiian flag to the Kingdom of Hawaii by the British in 1843. Righteousness can be understood as "right” or “right action."

GMOs are not "right," they disrespect and lead to desecration of the 'aina both here in Hawaii and worldwide. GMOs are not pono, they are not right. This October, Down to Earth is one of more than 1,500 grocery retailers across North America participating in the third annual Non-GMO Month—a celebration of people’s right to choose food and products that do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Down to Earth is celebrating Non-GMO Month with a special sale on select non-GMO products that have been approved to display the Non-GMO Project Verified Seal on the packaging.

Customers can identify their Non-GMO Project Verified choices with special shelf tags, end cap displays, and educational materials in all our stores. The sale is being held Oct. 11th through November 14th at all our locations. Surveys consistently 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. 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 a basic right.

Americans deserve the same freedom to avoid experimental GMO foods as people in other countries. GMO labeling is mandatory in nearly 50 countries around the world, including Australia, Russia, China, and all of Europe, but no such requirements exist in the U.S. In response to the regulatory void, more than a dozen states have taken up GMO labeling bills in the last year, including the voter initiative in California "Proposition 37," which puts mandatory GMO labeling on this November’s ballot.

While consumers fight for their right to know at the polls, the Non-GMO Project provides shoppers 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 is now the fastest growing label claim in the natural products industry with more than 5,000 Non-GMO Project Verified products.

For residents of Hawaii, Down to Earth is making it especially easy to find Non-GMO Project Verified choices throughout our stores. With GMOs now contaminating as much as 80% of packaged foods in conventional grocery supermarkets, we are more committed than ever to helping people find safe, healthy non-GMO choices.

That's why last February we announced our decision to go GMO-free. Among a number of steps to achieve this goal, we are no longer adding new food products that we are unable to establish are GMO free. New products must have Organic certification, the Non-GMO Project Verified seal, or written certification from the manufacturer or producer that the product is GMO free. Also, Down to Earth is requiring farmers to provide certification from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture that their papayas are Non-GMO.

Label GMOs! Facebook

To help empower you choose non-GMO, this month we created a special Facebook page dedicated solely to GMO-related news. Be sure to “Like” us at Label GMOs Hawaii for valuable updates to your Facebook News Feed! In nearly 50 countries around the world, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) must be labeled because they haven’t been proven safe.

By buying Non-GMO Project Verified, we support manufacturers, ingredient suppliers, and farmers who are committed to providing safe, healthy, non-GMO food for us and for our children. We believe people have the right to know what’s in their food, and we are proud to celebrate it with our non-GMO products sale. Our choices can change the world. Let’s help create a non-GMO future together! For more information about GMOs see our Label GMOs page or on Facebook. E Mālama I Ka `Āina, E Ola Pono (Cherish the Land, Live in Health and Harmony)