The Non-GMO Project, North America’s only third party verification and labeling for non-GMO foods and products (foods and products that do not contain genetically modified ingredients), will be celebrating their third annual Non-GMO Month throughout October. Non-GMO Month aims to generate awareness and support toward the efforts of companies that are enrolled in the Non-GMO Project Verification Program, such as Eden Foods, Organic Valley, Nature’s Path, Lundberg Family Farms, Annie’s Homegrown, Nordic Naturals and others. Non-GMO Month presents an “opportunity to coordinate our voices and our actions, so that we can stand up loudly and clearly for our right to know what’s in our food and to choose non-GMO,” the organizers say.
The majority of Non-GMO Month events are set to take place at participating health food stores around the country. This upcoming weekend, Mountain Valley Foods in Montana will donate 10% of sales directly to the Non-GMO Project and will also give their first 50 customers a free canvas Non-GMO Project grocery tote; Ashland Food Co-op in Oregon will be making their Santori Apple Cake, which calls for Non-GMO Project Verified Napa Naturals Extra Virgin Olive Oil instead of butter; and Hawthorne Valley Farm, a 400-acre biodynamic farm in New York, will hold their 18th annual celebration of agriculture and the environment.
“During Non-GMO Month we’ll help empower you to choose Non-GMO,” Mountain Valley Foods states on their website. “Products that have achieved non-GMO Project verification will be clearly tagged, and special deals will be available on many of these non-GMO goodies.”
Such events could rally additional support for California’s Proposition 37, a citizen’s right-to-know initiative up for vote on November 6 that seeks clear labeling of genetically modified ingredients. As bestselling food author Mark Bittman recently pointed out, should Proposition 37 pass, manufacturers forced to place a GMO label on their packaging may fear a drop in sales—therefore, many food products may instead be modified to be non-GMO. And because manufacturers are unlikely to modify a product just for California, GMOs may in turn decline throughout the nation’s food supply.
In Europe, both Russia and France have launched initiatives to verify the safety of GMOs in their food supply. Last week, Russian authorities temporarily suspended the import and sale of Monsanto’s genetically modified corn after a study released by France’s University of Caen suggested it may be linked to cancer and organ damage. The report claimed that rats fed over a two-year period with Monsanto’s genetically modified NK603 corn developed more tumors and other pathologies than a test group fed with regular corn. Russia’s consumer-rights regulator Rospotrebnadzor asked scientists at the country’s Institute of Nutrition to review the study and also contacted to European Commission’s Directorate General for Health & Consumers to explain the European Union’s position on GM corn.
Furthermore, France announced earlier this month that it plans to uphold their ban on genetically modified crops. It has asked the national food-security agency ANSES to examine the University of Caen study of Monsanto’s corn.
“Depending on ANSES’ opinion, the government will urge the European authorities to take all necessary measures to protect human and animal health,” Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll, Ecology Minister Delphine Batho and Health and Social Affairs Minister Marisol Touraine said in a joint statement. “(The measures) could go as far as invoking emergency suspension of imports of NK603 corn to Europe pending a re-examination of this product on the basis of enhanced assessment methods.”