There is a chill in the air, yellow leaves on the trees, and pumpkin spice aromas a plenty. It must be October. This month isn’t just about apple picking and corn mazes, it is also Non-GMO month—a time for consumers to reflect on their buying habits and learn more about GMOs so they can impact change. I am a GMO skeptic. I’m concerned about the potential impacts GMOs have on biodiversity, weed pressure, our health, the health of the planet, and the relationship farmers have to their seed. The monopoly control over the seed industry is cause for concern and superweeds are an undeniable phenomena. I understand that the earth is warming and its population is growing. That we will need to produce more food with a limited number of resources and in changing weather conditions. However, we should look to other non-technological solutions that will without a doubt help us feed the world. We could eat less meat, assist farmers in adopting better management strategies, address food access issues, and reduce food waste just to name a few. Whatever we do, we must do it together.
I believe in a transparent food system. Without transparency, we have no choice. And we should have a choice. Initiative Measure 522 in Washington State offers its residents the chance to vote for the labeling of genetically engineered foods. If you don’t have the good fortune of living in the evergreen state, worry not! Here are some ways you can use your grocery cart to impact social change–
- Avoid foods that contain at-risk ingredients. Over 80% of all corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and canola grown in the United States are genetically modified. Avoid processed foods that contain these ingredients, and meat products from animals that may have been fed them.
- Better yet, shop organic. The USDA Organic Rule explains that “the use of genetically engineered organisms and their products are prohibited in any form or at any stage in organic production, processing or handling.”
- Download the Non-GMO shopping guide from our friends at the Non-GMO project. This guide will help you identify and avoid foods that contain GMOs. Get the pocket size guide to take when you shop, or download the app on your phone so you are always prepared!
- For the tech-savvy—download the NxtNutrio App. This app allows you to scan a product’s barcode with your smart phone to view information on its ingredients, including allergen information and whether or not it contains GMOs. It helps unsuspecting shoppers spot chemicals, GMOs, additives, preservatives, and flavor enhancers in brand name foods.
- Plant a garden. Don’t just buy GMO-free food, grow it. Get seeds for next year’s garden from sources that have affirmed their commitment to Non-GMO seeds by signing the Safe Seed Pledge.