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:

A platter of veggie burger fixings with sprouts, grilled mushrooms and tomatoes, with a product package for NoBull burgers and two bottles of Halo + Cleaver sauces.
June 30, 2022

Tasty Non-GMO Treats for Your Holiday Cookout

The holiday weekend is nearly here, and on both sides of the 49th parallel, cookouts abound. With Independence Day celebrated July 4 in the U.S. and Canada Day on July 1, there’s no shortage of backyard parties — and we can help with cookout-friendly products and homemade accompaniments, all non-GMO. You can find the Butterfly… » Read more


June 22, 2022

Stay Cool and Non-GMO With Verified Ice Cream

Do you scream for ice cream? Or perhaps you love the taste of plant-based? Either way, we’ve got you covered with chilled Non-GMO Project Verified treats certain to satisfy. Each brand offers something special, and all create innovative flavors made with high-quality ingredients.  Ice cream and non-dairy frozen desserts pair wonderfully with fresh berries that… » Read more

Cows and calves before weaning grazing in pasture
June 10, 2022

5 Ways Dairy Can Be a Climate Ally

Every June, we highlight natural dairy products and producers during National Dairy Month. This year’s celebrations are particularly important because of a new GMO antagonist: synbio non-animal dairy proteins.  Synbio dairy proteins are made using synthetic biology, which generally exploits genetically modified microorganisms to produce novel compounds. Synthetic biology is just one part of the… » Read more

Happy woman takes bottle of milk out of fridge, test on left reads "Food grown on soil, not in a lab. #DAIRYMONTH with the Non-GMO Project"
June 2, 2022

Synbio Milk Is a Dud

June is National Dairy Month! We’re celebrating natural dairy by investigating an interloper in the dairy aisle, a wolf in cow’s clothing: synthetic biology dairy proteins. Synbio proteins have fed the biotech’s growing dairy presence in recent years, spawning a range of products made with non-animal dairy proteins. So far, these products include GMO milk,… » Read more

Man standing with a shopping cart opening a refrigerator door in a grocery store
May 26, 2022

The Butterfly Protects Your Right To Choose

At the Non-GMO Project, we believe everyone has the right to know what’s in their food and deserves access to non-GMO choices. For the past 15 years, we’ve protected that right with the most trustworthy, rigorous certification in North America for GMO avoidance.  With new and experimental GMOs entering the food supply unlabeled and unregulated,… » Read more

Collage of three images: a strand of DNA, a field of grain and two people in the foreground gesturing over a computer.
May 19, 2022

What’s wrong with GMOs? A lot.

When GMOs were commercialized in the 1990s, few people knew about these novel organisms entering the food supply. Their development, testing and deployment had occurred with a startling lack of transparency. However, as early GMOs and their derivatives made their way into more and more common food products, folks in the natural foods sector started… » Read more


May 12, 2022

What Is a GMO?

When GMOs first came on the market in the 1990s, the general public didn’t know much about them. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then. Through the advocacy of activist organizations, including the Non-GMO Project, familiarity with the term GMO is nearly universal.*  We love to see awareness of the GMO issue grow (in… » Read more


May 6, 2022

Can a Lab-based Food System Save the World?

This spring we’re exploring biotech’s biggest and greenwashiest claims in our series Are GMOs really going to save the world?   In our final piece of our three-part series, we examine the prospect of a global lab-based food system. Could synthetic biology be the key to producing food in a changing climate, or just a lot… » Read more

Different grains and seeds
April 21, 2022

How useful are GMOs on a warming planet? Middling.

This spring we’re exploring biotech’s biggest and greenwashiest claims in our series Are GMOs really going to save the world? This is the second piece in the series. Don’t forget to check out Part One of the series, Genetically Engineered Golden Rice: Real Hope or Misplaced Hype? and Part Three, Can a Lab-based Food System… » Read more


April 14, 2022

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

Humans and Earth
April 7, 2022

How Big Ag Accidentally Inspired Earth Day (And the Non-GMO Project)

“Nature has introduced great variety into the landscape, but man has displayed a passion for simplifying it.”  — Rachel Carson, Silent Spring The first Earth Day celebration, held on April 22, 1970, is commonly credited as the birth of the modern environmental movement. More than 50 years later, Earth Day is the largest secular celebration… » Read more

underwater salmon
March 30, 2022

Who Ate All the Frankenfish? (Hint: It Might Have Been You!)

The world’s first genetically modified animal approved for human consumption was the AquaAdvantage salmon, a GMO with added genetic material from a Chinook salmon and the eel-like ocean pout. Throughout 2017 and 2018, Canadian consumers became the first people to eat the fast-growing frankenfish — but they didn’t know it.  Despite consistent polling that most… » Read more

cardboard cutout of world map
March 24, 2022

U.S. Becomes 65th Country to Label GMOs — But Whose Laws Are the Best?

On January 1, 2022, the bioengineered (BE) food labeling law came into full effect. This policy makes the United States the 65th country with a mandatory GMO labeling policy.  Nations that enact clear and meaningful GMO labeling are responding to overwhelming public desire for it. In poll after poll, shoppers demand clear and consistent labeling…. » Read more


March 17, 2022

Going Plant-Based to Save the Planet? Better Look For the Butterfly, Too

Plant-based foods are having a renaissance. While staples such as veggie burgers and soy milk have been around for decades, we’re witnessing a tsunami of innovative products that can romance the taste buds of vegans and omnivores, vegetarians and flexitarians.  Recent converts to the plant-based craze credit two reasons for their choice: They want to… » Read more


March 8, 2022

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

  This blog was originally published on December 9, 2021. It has been updated in celebration of “Popcorn Lover’s Day.” For many of us, movies and popcorn go hand-in-hand. To have one without the other is only half the fun! While we sit in a dark theater, we give little thought to the fact that… » Read more


March 3, 2022

Genetically Engineered Golden Rice: Real Hope or Misplaced Hype?

This spring, we’re offering three stories on biotech’s biggest and greenwashiest claims in our series, “Are GMOs really going to save the world?” Part One looks at Golden Rice, one of the most controversial GMOs ever created. Don’t forget to check out Part Two, How Useful are GMOs on a Warming Planet? and Part 3,… » Read more


February 17, 2022

Know Your Labels! The Butterfly Makes Non-GMO Easy

There are a lot of labels at the grocery store, including one recent arrival: the new Bioengineered (“BE”) food disclosure. The BE label sprung from the overwhelming public demand for labels on genetically engineered foods — but in practice, the label is confusing. It also fails to identify many common products made with GMOs. For… » Read more


February 10, 2022

4 Nonprofits Everyone’s Talking About

February is Black History Month, and this year’s celebration focuses on Black Health & Wellness. This theme goes beyond physical well-being, encompassing mental and spiritual health while honoring the practitioners and scholars who have worked in Black communities. Food is, of course, part of every community’s health and wellness, and it’s a key component of… » Read more

woman at the grocery store reading food label
February 3, 2022

There’s a New Label in Town — But the Butterfly Stays Strong

The Bioengineered (BE) Food label is part of the new federal law that identifies some  — but not all — products made with GMO ingredients. The law came into full effect in the United States on January 1, 2022, following years of grassroots organizing, state actions and federal counteractions.  The GMO-labeling movement that gave rise… » Read more

man in an agriculture field
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

man checking food label at the 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

women in athletic attire holding beverage bottles
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

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