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:

Merry Christmas, flat lay. Hands wrapping stylish christmas gift
December 5, 2022

Holiday Gift Guide: Inspiration To Fit Your Budget

The gift-giving season is nearly here! We asked Non-GMO Project team members what they’re excited to give and receive this year. They came back with a range of items to show your loved ones how much you care. Whether you’re looking to make a big splash by investing in a future family heirloom, seeking something… » Read more

colorful dried corn bunch for harvest decoration
November 3, 2022

Mexico’s GMO Corn Ban Aims To Protect Cultural Heritage

On the last day of 2020, Mexican President Lopez Obrador pledged to phase out GMO corn imports and prohibit the use of glyphosate — the herbicide that commonly accompanies many GMO crops — by 2024. The decree is ambitious, controversial and well-worth defending. Mexico is the birthplace of corn, and one of the United States’… » Read more


October 20, 2022

The Butterfly Lands on More Natural Choices

The Non-GMO Project was created to provide a trustworthy and rigorous way to avoid GMOs in food and personal care products. Simply put, the Project was created to serve you and millions of people like you. We serve everyone who grows, makes, buys, sells and eats food in the United States and Canada.  By maintaining… » Read more


October 13, 2022

Testing Protects Your Right To Choose Non-GMO

The Non-GMO Project is North America’s most rigorous certification for GMO avoidance. Our Standard requires ingredient tracing, segregation and testing of major ingredients that are high risk for being GMO.  Testing is essential for managing the risks posed by novel organisms, including potential environmental harm and economic impacts. Just as importantly, testing for the presence… » Read more


September 30, 2022

This Summer’s Biggest and Tastiest Food News

There’s a lot going on.  In case you missed it, there have been several news stories lately regarding the food system — including some that impact your right to choose whether or not to consume GMOs. As always, the Non-GMO Project continues to advocate for natural, resilient and sustainable food supply, to build and protect… » Read more

Three Black women stand around a kitchen table preparing food together and laughing.
September 23, 2022

Plant-Based Foods in the Social Justice Movement

A quick google image search of the word “vegans” reveals pictures of colorful fruits and vegetables and not-so-colorful people. According to the internet, the face of veganism is young, middle-class, and mostly white. But this image is inaccurate and distorts the origins and much of the non-GMO innovation taking place in the plant-based space.  According… » Read more


September 16, 2022

Looking for Plant-Based Foods? Non-GMO Options Abound!

Did you know plant-based foods are one of the fastest-growing grocery categories? Shoppers are picking more plant-based options than ever before. As the plant-based category grows, so does biotechnology’s interest in it.  Traditional, transgenic GMOs — including herbicide tolerant soybeans and corn engineered to create its own pesticide — have threatened the plant-based movement since… » Read more

Soybean ripening next to corn maize field at spring season under an ominous sky
September 8, 2022

GMO crops in plant-based foods? No, thanks!

Throughout September, we’re celebrating the growing popularity of plant-based foods and the non-GMO innovation driving it. To help you keep GMOs out of your shopping cart, we’re also shining a light on how genetic engineering shows up in this fast-growing food category. Last week, we explored the rise of new GMOs in the plant-based space… » Read more

A young woman is seated at a table enjoying a healthy smoothie. There is a tray filled with fruit and vegetables on the table in front of her. The background shows illustrations of a variety of foods and dishes.the table
September 2, 2022

Where New GMOs Show Up in Plant-Based Foods

Eaters are choosing plant-based options more often than they ever have before. Their choices are motivated by health and climate concerns, affordability, animal welfare and more.  To meet the demand, hundreds of Non-GMO Project partner brands create Verified plant-based products using natural innovations. These are companies that turn to non-GMO or organic ingredients to emulate… » Read more

Little brother and sister siting on the grass together their with lunch boxes.
August 28, 2022

This School Year, Go Non-GMO for Lunch

Here comes the school year! And with it, the creative challenge of what to put in your kids’ lunchboxes. Day after day. For the next 10 months, give or take. It’s no wonder many caregivers struggle to come up with fresh combos of healthy, tasty meals that travel well without refrigeration. We’ve got some fresh… » Read more

A cute brown puppy with a red collar eats food from its overflowing bowl.
August 18, 2022

The Non-GMO Pet: Why We Verify Products for Your Best Friend

Did you know the Non-GMO Project verifies food and wellness products for animals as well as products made for people?  It’s true! Verified food and treats abound, and dogs and cats are common benefactors. There are also other Verified supplies, including pet wipes, supplements and first aid products designed for creatures great and small.  Looking… » Read more


August 4, 2022

Together We Can Regenerate America

The Non-GMO Project is proud to be a part of the Regenerate America campaign, working with Kiss the Ground and a diverse coalition of farmers, businesses, nonprofits and concerned citizens working to make regenerative agriculture the cornerstone of the 2023 Farm Bill. Together, we can lay the foundations of a healthy and sustainable food system… » Read more


July 28, 2022

More Butterfly for Your Buck

During the last few years, grocery shopping has gone from being a reasonably predictable chore to something more like a roller coaster ride. From pandemic-induced pantry stocking, supply chain shortages and historic inflation, many of us have one eye on our shopping cart and the other on our pocketbooks. With the rising cost of groceries… » Read more


July 21, 2022

What’s NOT a GMO?

At the Non-GMO Project, part of our goal is to help people better understand the GMO issue so they can make the best decisions for themselves. Through articles like this one, as well as infographics and videos, we educate the public about GMOs and where they might appear. That work often involves combatting common misconceptions. … » Read more

Mother and daughter in a grocery store looking at yogurt
July 14, 2022

Who’s Looking Out for You? We Are!

  In the 1990s, GMOs entered the food supply without public consultation or consent. The first generation of GMOs were novel organisms created in a lab by combining DNA from different species. The genetically modified crops were engineered to withstand weedkillers or produce their own insecticide. While GMOs were added to common products that were… » Read more

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

This article is part of 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 structure and cultural identity that evolved along with the crops — are under threat… » Read more

curious chicken
November 11, 2021

What Does Bill Gates Have To Do With Ethiopian Chickens?

This article is part of a 3-part series on familiar foods with surprising backstories. 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 — but is genetic engineering an effective solution?  Read Part One: Is Synbio Vanilla “Natural”? Heck,… » Read more

Closeup of Vanilla flower, Reunion Island
November 2, 2021

Is Synbio Vanilla “Natural”? Heck, No!

This article is part of 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 sustainable farming? Read Part Two: What Does Bill Gates Have To Do With Ethiopian Chickens? 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