If you demand it, they will come…
In April 2016, The New York Times reported that for the first time, acreage of GMO crops has declined. We want to take a moment to acknowledge that this change is due, in large part, because of you. In the six short years since the Butterfly first appeared on grocery shelves, so much has happened. Public awareness and concerns over long-term impacts of GMOs (especially on our health and the environment) have driven what started as a grassroots movement in the natural space into the first GMO labeling law going into effect next month. So, thank you to our neighbors in Vermont and beyond, to all the Changemakers among us who support our right to know what is in our food—whether it be voting with our wallets or taking action in Washington.
As you shop, you can know every time you see the Non-GMO Project Verified seal, you are continuing to have a direct impact on the supply chain. There are currently more than 34,000 products bearing the seal and we are seeing steady growth in suppliers who provide Verified ingredients to brands. It is this chain reaction—from farm to label—that is making lasting change.
Meanwhile, in Vermont…
Vermont’s Act 120 is causing many large brands to either seek Non-GMO Project verification or to label their products as being made with GMOs.
According to the Organic and Non-GMO Report:
General Mills, Mars, Kellogg, and ConAgra Foods made their announcements just a few days after the U.S. Senate rejected a bill that would have established voluntary GMO labeling and pre-empted Vermont’s and other state labeling laws.
The four companies, which are ranked in the top 15 largest food companies in the U.S. and Canada, are following the lead of the Campbell Soup Company, which announced in January that it would label all of its products containing GMOs.
This is a huge step towards transparency. Here at the Non-GMO Project, we received many questions about the impacts of Vermont 120. The main one was, “How will this affect the Butterfly?” The Non-GMO Project is an approved independent verification organization under Vermont Act 120, and an accompanying rule, Consumer Protection Rule 121, and our seal meets Vermont’s labeling law criteria. Do you have additional questions? The Vermont Attorney General has published FAQs, Consumers Union published an excellent summary, or you can always email us – we love hearing from you!
Meanwhile in Washington, DC…
On June 23, 2016, a bipartisan bill jumped the first hurdle towards becoming national law. It is unlikely a resolution will be passed before Vermont Act 120 goes into effect on July 1st. But here is a summary of the bill as it stands:
- Manufacturers have the option of using a QR code, website address, toll free number, USDA approved symbol or other text (TBD: something like “Scan Here for more Information”)
- Genetic modification only includes DNA or the transferring of genes
- Biotechnologies like RNA interference and gene editing, including CRISPR, are exempt
- Livestock is exempt – even if the animal eats genetically modified feed
- Animal products as the main ingredient: meat, poultry, eggs are exempt
- Smaller quantities of ingredients (like high fructose corn syrup) are exempt
- Organic can now make the non-GMO claim without additional testing
- Will override Vermont Act 120, but can take up to two years to go into effect
It ain’t over ‘til it’s over…Take Action!
This latest bill still needs to pass the Agriculture Committee, full Senate and the House. We urge you to take a moment to tell your Senator that want clear, simple labeling of GMOs on product packaging.
We believe you have a right to know that the products you purchase have been held to the industry’s highest standard for GMO avoidance. I want to close this post with a quote from our Executive Director, Megan Westgate:
“This watered down legislation is a world away from the rigorous protocols required of any product bearing the Non-GMO Project Verified label. Through all the turmoil of the mandatory labeling battles, the Non-GMO Project butterfly will continue to provide the public with a meaningful way to avoid GMOs.”
Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below and thank you for your trust and continued support!
Changemakers Change Acres
This blog is part of our “Changemakers Change Acres” series which celebrates the progress we are all making together towards a collective non-GMO future. Tell us about a brand, retailer or community member who is pushing the movement forward in a notable way. We will honor these leaders at the end of 2016. Submit your nomination anytime through October 31, 2016.