Ashland, OR—(September 6, 2012) This October, Ashland Food Co-op will be 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).
Studies 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 so basic,” says Megan Westgate, Executive Director of the non-profit Non-GMO Project, which started Non-GMO Month. “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 a voter initiative in California that puts mandatory GMO labeling on this November’s ballot. Locally, Non GMO Jackson County is collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that would ban the use of GMO seeds in our county.
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 the Rogue Valley, Ashland Food Co-op will make it especially easy to find Non-GMO Project Verified choices throughout Non-GMO Month. “With GMOs now contaminating as much as 80% of conventional packaged foods, as well as a number of products natural foods shoppers rely on, we are more committed than ever to helping people find safe, healthy non-GMO choices,” says Annie Hoy, Outreach Manager. “We believe people have the right to know what’s in their food, and we will be celebrating that all throughout Non-GMO Month this October.”