Title: Copywriter and Editor
Email: melissa@nongmoproject.org

Melissa grew up in Vancouver, BC, surrounded by the natural beauty of Canada’s coastal forests.

Melissa traveled and studied fine art in the United States and Europe, earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Called back to the allure of the mountains, ocean, and even the rain, Melissa returned to the Pacific Northwest and now resides in Bellingham, Washington.

Melissa’s interest in food security and environmental sustainability began when she fell in with an intrepid group of urban farmers. Through them, she learned the real value of good food. She also learned that if you ever have the chance to go to a dinner hosted by farmers, say “YES!”

In her spare time, Melissa can be found gardening, drawing, and being tackled by her niece and nephew. Sometimes all at once.

Articles by this contributor:

agriculture
January 26, 2022

6 Benefits of Going Non-GMO

Agriculture does a lot for us. It produces food, fiber and fuel. In many places, it’s critical to social bonds and community. Plus, the land itself provides valuable ecosystem services, protecting the environment we need to thrive.  That’s why it’s vital that our food systems are healthy, because a healthy food system sows the seeds… » Read more

Checking food labels at supermarket
January 19, 2022

The New BE Label is Here! Or Is It??? (And Why You Should Still Look for the Butterfly)

Have you seen a new label at the grocery store? The new federal Bioengineered (BE) Food labeling law went into effect on January 1, 2022. Under the law, BE disclosures are now mandatory on certain products made with GMOs. However, due to exemptions and a limited definition of a “bioengineered food,” many products made with GMOs… » Read more


January 3, 2022

Busy as a Beverage

What’s a “Functional Beverage?” Have you ever wondered what makes functional beverages “functional?” You’d think the fact that a beverage is 1) liquid, and 2) potable would be enough for it to functionally be considered a beverage.  Prepare to be amazed.  Functional beverages are a species unto themselves. The name is a food-industry term that… » Read more


December 30, 2021

Non-GMO Project Presents: The Year in Food, 2021

As another roller-coaster of a year comes to a close, you’d be forgiven for complaining of motion sickness. With ups and downs throughout 2021, our deep gratitude continues for all the essential workers in retail grocery and healthcare — our hats come off to you, our masks stay on! Below you’ll find a compilation of… » Read more


December 23, 2021

Exposing GMOs: Are You Being Fooled by Imposters?

It’s a classic case of mistaken identity. Some common grocery store products have odd names or unique features, and they’re mistaken for GMOs. But many are proudly non-GMO — and some of them are Non-GMO Project Verified! The Butterfly helps shoppers find products that meet the highest standard in North America for GMO avoidance. To… » Read more


December 9, 2021

Will Biotech “POP” Organic Corn’s Best Defense Against GMO Pollen?

Question: Which Christmas tradition is naturally non-GMO? Answer: Decorating the tree with popcorn garlands! But, that could change. Many of us have childhood memories of dark winter evenings spent around a tree, stringing popped corn and cranberries onto a thread. Furtive snacks were frequent. As we draped edible garlands across branches, we gave little thought… » Read more

Multicolor maize,corn varieties
November 18, 2021

GMOs and Heritage Corn: Protecting the Source of Life

Our stories are shaped by the feasts we share and the food we eat. For the holidays, we’re dishing up a 3-part series on familiar foods with surprising backstories. Part Three: Mexico is the birthplace of corn, and corn is the “source of life.” But the unique genetic resources of native maize — and the social… » Read more

curious chicken
November 11, 2021

What Does Bill Gates Have To Do With Ethiopian Chickens?

Our stories are shaped by the feasts we share and the food we eat. For the holidays, we’re dishing up a 3-part series on familiar foods with surprising stories. Part Two: Chickens are quickly becoming the world’s most widely consumed meat. Intensive factory farming dominates poultry production, creating a laundry list of related problems —… » Read more

Closeup of Vanilla flower, Reunion Island
November 2, 2021

Is Synbio Vanilla “Natural”? Heck, No!

Our stories are shaped by the feasts we share and the food we eat. For the holidays, we’re dishing up a 3-part series on familiar foods with surprising backstories. Part One: What is the past, present and future of the humble vanilla bean, a tasty and lucrative crop that pits biotechnology against traditional knowledge and… » Read more

Tractor spraying pesticides on field with sprayer
September 30, 2021

(Un)Greenwashing GMOs

Agriculture is uniquely positioned in the environmental movement. Because everyone needs to eat, a sustainable food system is crucial for humanity’s well-being. However, agriculture is currently responsible for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, and crops exposed to extreme weather events are vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate. Everybody wants a truly… » Read more


September 23, 2021

New GMOs in Virtually Every Grocery Aisle

It’s been nearly 30 years since the USDA approved the first genetically modified crop. During that time, technology has drastically outpaced regulation — and products made from new GMO techniques are hitting grocery store shelves near you. When genetically modified organisms first came on the scene in the early 1990s, the cast of characters was limited…. » Read more

woman grocery shopping in produce section
July 1, 2021

Your Choices Make a Difference

The Non-GMO Project was created because people had questions about genetically modified organisms. In the years before the Project was founded, now-Executive Director Megan Westgate worked at a food co-op. “We were seeing in stores that increasingly people were coming in and looking for non-GMO choices,” she says. “They were having a hard time figuring… » Read more

Monarch butterfly on flower
June 24, 2021

Our Vision for the Future: A Response to the USDA

On April 21, 2021, the USDA invited public comments on the future of the food system: From commodities and food crop production to the supply chains that process crops and transport them. This kind of comprehensive look at critical systems is both timely — with lessons learned from the global pandemic — and crucial to… » Read more

Graphic of Scientists analyzing DNA helix and editing genome within organisms
June 17, 2021

Unintended Outcomes and Off-target Effects in New GMOs

In a 2018 Washington Post article, new GMO techniques were described in blushing terms: “the future of food” and “precise, fast and inexpensive.” While new techniques including gene-editing, gene-silencing and synthetic biology proliferate across industries, there are serious concerns about their precision and efficiency.  Read our recent blog post New GMOs and Where to Find… » Read more

Close-up of DNA
June 3, 2021

New GMOs and Where to Find Them

It’s been a big year for the biotech industry. You may have noticed the wealth of headlines reporting breakthroughs in gene editing and other new GMO techniques, news stories littered with acronyms like CRISPR, TALEN and RNAi. These are just some of the new techniques being used to create novel products in our food supply… » Read more

Woman grocery shopping
May 24, 2021

What You Need To Know About Bioengineered (BE) Food Labeling

Since its inception in 2007, the Non-GMO Project has advocated for meaningful, mandatory labeling of GMOs. And we are not alone: *65% of Americans believe GMOs should be labeled. So when the incoming federal labeling law for bioengineered (BE) foods was released, we hoped it would meet the public’s desire for transparency.  We were disappointed…. » Read more

Atlantic salmon
May 18, 2021

GMO Salmon Launching this Spring in the U.S.

The first batch of genetically modified salmon raised in a U.S. facility has been sold from AquaBounty’s facility in Albany, Ind. The GMO salmon were modified with DNA from both a Chinook salmon and an ocean pout to grow nearly twice as fast as non-GMO Atlantic salmon while consuming less feed.  Will GMO salmon be… » Read more

Rad Power Bikes and people smiling
May 7, 2021

Enter to Win a Rad Power Bike — and #BeTheButterfly

During the final month of our Butterfly Effect campaign, we’re celebrating the same way we began: By giving away a state-of-the-art Rad Power Bike! We are delighted to partner again with this innovative Pacific Northwest company dedicated to accessible, sustainable and fun transportation for all. Visit the contest page to enter and share your reason… » Read more

Earth Day — Restore the Earth
April 22, 2021

Restoring Our Connection to the Earth — Every Day

Today, millions of people around the world will celebrate Earth Day. With a call to action to Restore Our Earth, more than 1 billion people across the globe will come together to mark a fundamental and familiar truth: That our planet is ailing and that human activity continues to have a profound impact. But there… » Read more


April 13, 2021

How Do GMOs Affect Biodiversity?

In the past 25 years, genetically modified organisms have transformed the agricultural landscape, figuratively and literally. The greatest impacts have come from some of the earliest and most widely adopted GMO crops, which now take up over 90% of U.S. cropland. While the trend toward crop uniformity did not start with GMOs, this technology has… » Read more

sprouting seedling
April 1, 2021

The Magic — and the Monopoly — of Seeds

“Okay, you see this little bean that destroyed itself and gave you a new sprout?… Put that in the soil so you can get a hundred other ones, and then put one of those in the soil so you can get a thousand.” — Ron Finley, educator, activist, gangster gardener Seeds are magical things. Each seed… » Read more


March 23, 2021

What Could a Non-GMO Food System Look Like?

The term “non-GMO food system” is, on its own, a little vague. It identifies most clearly what it is not. Genetic modification is used to engineer a specific trait in an organism to achieve a particular outcome, such as crops that are tolerant to herbicide applications. But the practice fails to take into account the… » Read more

Pink GMO Pineapple
March 4, 2021

This Genetically Modified Pink Pineapple Can Be Yours — For $49

On October 13, 2020, fruit giant Del Monte Fresh released the Pinkglow Pineapple, a fruit that is genetically modified to produce pink flesh. Priced at up to $49, the Pinkglow is beyond the reach — and reason — of many consumers, which appears to suit Del Monte just fine. It is grown, marketed and sold… » Read more

Product Certifications
February 25, 2021

Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified: A Tale of Two Certifications

We’re often asked how Non-GMO Project Verification and USDA Organic Certification intersect. If “Organic is always non-GMO,” then what does the Non-GMO Project Verification mark offer to brands and shoppers? A lot! Let’s walk through it. The Non-GMO Project Verification Program is focused solely and deeply on GMOs, supported by testing and supply chain tracing…. » Read more


February 11, 2021

Manukora Honey: Good News from New Zealand’s Bees, and the People who Tend to Them

There is good news in the world of bees, and that news comes from New Zealand: Honey bee populations in the country have been growing steadily for the last century. Progress like this is all the more critical as global populations of bees and other pollinators move in the opposite direction. This achievement speaks to… » Read more

illustration of technical administrators
January 19, 2021

How Independent Verifiers Help Build the Butterfly Label You Trust

More people than ever before are looking carefully at the products they bring home to their families. Considering all the information on a package, the average shopper would need to pull up a stool and make a day of it. Certifications and clean food labels like the Non-GMO Project Butterfly offer a valuable shortcut. So,… » Read more

Monarch Butterfly
January 8, 2021

The New Non-GMO Project Standard Is Out! Join Us for a Look Behind the Butterfly

We are delighted to announce that Version 16 of the Non-GMO Project Standard has been officially released and can be found here — free of charge, at any time. We are tremendously proud of the hard work and expertise that has gone into v16, including the contributions of Project staff, professional stakeholders and industry experts… » Read more


December 16, 2020

Holiday Gift Guide: Last-Minute Gift Ideas to Celebrate the Time We Spend Together 

It’s been quite a year. Of course it’s not over yet: Chronologically we still have a few weeks left. When this whole “New Normal” started in the spring, it was heavy on the new and light on the normal. As we head into winter, the barometer has changed — and this holiday season could well… » Read more


December 4, 2020

Why Every Day Should Be World Soil Day

This Saturday, December 5, is World Soil Day, a holiday first recognized by the United Nations in 2014. At the Non-GMO Project, we’ll be up to our dirty knees in celebrating the soil and we invite you to join us. After all, soil is the basis of life as we know it, and we’re grateful… » Read more


November 30, 2020

Non-GMO and Nonprofit: Putting People and Planet First

The Non-GMO Project began in 2006 as a nonprofit with the goal of providing everyday consumers with a choice about whether or not to consume genetically modified organisms. Our passion for natural foods and consumer advocacy means our actions, decisions and very purpose are not driven by profits, but by our mission: To empower people… » Read more


October 30, 2020

Non-GMO Month and Fair Trade Month Come To a Close

Non-GMO Month — our signature annual event — goes back into hibernation as October comes to a close. Now in its second decade, Non-GMO Month celebrates our right to choose whether or not to consume GMOs. Traditionally, it’s been a time for our retail partners to connect with their communities as families head into the… » Read more


October 2, 2020

ZYN CURCUMIN (from Turmeric) Infused Drinks – Inspiring Positive Change

The story of ZYN Infused Drinks is about family. It’s about a family that traveled very far to build a future for their children, who traveled back many times to keep the bonds between the old world and the new one strong. The family’s roots — metaphoric and literal — connected them across cultures, filling… » Read more


August 13, 2020

Creating Cosmo: A GMO Bull Story

Earlier this year, while much of North America was hunkering down for a quarantine, researchers at UC Davis were celebrating the birth of a unique calf. Cosmo the bull-calf.  Festive balloons read, “It’s A Boy!”  Those balloons could be bought in bulk, seeing as the whole point of this engineering process was to encourage cattle… » Read more


July 23, 2020

What’s Soil Health Got to Do With GMOs? Part 2

Read Part 1 of this blog “Unkindness to anything means an injustice to that thing.” —  George Washington Carver In 1896, the soil conservationist George Washington Carver joined the faculty of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Carver was determined to regenerate agricultural soil that had been depleted by intense cotton production under the plantation system…. » Read more


July 16, 2020

From Paddock to Plate : A Butter Lover’s Blog, Sponsored by Lewis Road Creamery

In 2011, Peter Cullinane had an idea. He was at a grocery store, searching for some high-quality butter to go with the baguette and ham he’d put aside for lunch. He knew that while the right butter could turn a simple meal into a symphony, the wrong butter could be a train wreck (not to… » Read more

Farmer hand holding a fresh young plant. Symbol of new life and environmental conservation
July 10, 2020

What’s Soil Health Got to Do With GMOs? Part 1

A telescope pointed at the sky and a microscope pointed at the Earth both uncover mysterious and little-known realms. Soil might not evoke the romance of space, if the number of blockbuster movies set there is any indication (*Dear Paul Rudd: Antman is uniquely qualified to reverse this trend. Have at it.) But soil is… » Read more


June 26, 2020

The Dairy Diaries: Why Non-GMO Is the Cream of the Crop

GMOs have a large hoof-print in the world of animal-based products. Keeping them out of the food supply and out of your grocery cart is no small task. As National Dairy Month comes to a close, we tip our hats to all the brands that have committed to non-GMO, bringing you an overview of where… » Read more


May 28, 2020

Ecological Footprints: A Butterfly Leaves No Tracks

Every living thing on Earth consumes something, from the greatest whale to the tiniest microbe. Their consumption is part of the contribution they make to their environment. In a healthy environment, this exchange of energy supports the life cycles of all. As humans, we are unique: With short-sighted ingenuity, we tend to harvest, strip-mine and… » Read more

RadRunner e-bike
May 19, 2020

The Electric Bike and the Butterfly

As part of our #BeTheButterfly Campaign, we’ve partnered with Seattle-based Rad Power Bikes for the chance to win a state-of-the-art electric bike! Rad Power Bikes is a local direct to consumer business with global impact: It grew from a one-person operation to become an industry leader in the field of ebikes, with stores in the… » Read more


May 11, 2020

What’s Your Butterfly Effect?

Beginning today, the Non-GMO Project is launching an awareness campaign to highlight how individual actions ultimately lead to huge impacts. This idea is called the butterfly effect, and in the natural world, it happens all the time: A small and seemingly insignificant event spirals outward, creating massive and complex changes in the world around us…. » Read more

Top view diner plate
April 27, 2020

GMOs: One More Thing We Don’t Need on Our Plate

We are in uncertain times, living through the calamity of a century. The frequency with which we hear the word “unprecedented” is, in itself, unprecedented. News stories seem to divide their time between crowded hospital wards and strained grocery stores. Retail grocers are, of course, an essential service. While half the world’s population has been… » Read more

hands painted in the world map
April 22, 2020

Earth Day At The Crossroads

On April 22, 2020, we observe the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and the birthday of the modern environmental movement. In the half-century since the inception of Earth Day, billions of people have taken part in activities around the world, a clamoring for action that drove the formation of groundbreaking government regulations, including the National… » Read more


April 15, 2020

Special Screening of “Modified”: Celebrating Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the Non-GMO Project is partnering with Women’s Voice magazine to bring you the inspiring 2017 film, “Modified.” Canadian gardener and filmmaker Aube Giroux explores her family’s love of growing and sharing food, inspired by her late mother, Jali. Jali Giroux’s passion for possibilities of their home garden… » Read more


April 10, 2020

Sow Greenery, Grow Sanity

Springtime is when the green thumbs amongst us dust off our overalls, grab our spades and head outdoors. In these times of uncertainty, it’s a balm to the soul to see the natural world going about its spring business. There are as many ways to bring that peace and predictability into our own lives as… » Read more


April 2, 2020

Notes on a Crisis

“In times of crisis, seemingly impossible ideas suddenly become possible.” -Naomi Klein We’re living through a period of upheaval, the full scale of which is, as yet, uncertain. It has — or will — affect everyone; it has — or will — be everywhere. Generosity and inspiring acts of kindness are occurring alongside fear and… » Read more


March 19, 2020

Welcome to the Pandemic. I’m Here to Walk Your Dog.

Life changed drastically for many North Americans this week. We saw it happening in other parts of the world, and we thought… well, we thought whatever we thought. Now those changes have arrived on our shores. We’re practicing social distancing to limit the spread of coronavirus. This is imperative to save lives, and it’s not… » Read more


March 16, 2020

Back to Basics

Downloadable Resources The ABCs of GMOs is available as a downloadable poster and in storybook form! Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for details. Do You Know Your GMOs? During the month of February, we went back to basics with the #DoYouKnowYourGMOs campaign, highlighting some of the most important creatures and concepts that impact… » Read more


March 4, 2020

CRISPR on the Move: From Mailbox to Icebox

Last week’s blog, The CRISPR Revolution, closed with the enticing statement: Join us next week to find out where CRISPR technology can show up in your house! Spoiler alert: it’s unlikely to be hiding under your bed, or to jump out at you from a darkened corner. So far, the most common place to find… » Read more


February 28, 2020

The CRISPR Revolution

The gene editing tool known as CRISPR-Cas9 (CRISPR to its friends) was featured on several “top breakthroughs of the decade” lists as the 2020s came into view. It has been ogled for a broad spectrum of uses, from groundbreaking medical treatments to doubling animals’ muscle mass. One of CRISPR’s creators, Jennifer Doudna, predicts the most… » Read more


January 29, 2020

Looking ahead, Part 2

Welcome to the 20s. Let’s Roar. A century ago, the Roaring 20s ushered in an era of innovation, prosperity, cultural and societal change. These movements were not a choreographed affair, heading neatly in one direction. They surged this way and that, pushing against the boundaries of how life had been before the First World War…. » Read more