The Real Deal: The butterfly in the food market

The Real Deal: The butterfly in the food market

Go into any supermarket and you will see a butterfly symbol that landed on product packages from your morning cereal box to literally thousands of food items including kosher products.  This is the Non-GMO Project Verified.

The Non-GMO Project was created in 2007 by two grocery stores. The Natural Grocery Company in Berkley, Calif., and The Big Carrot Natural Food Market in Toronto, Ontario, worked diligently to provide their customers with more information about GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

GMOs are widespread in grocery stores.  Today the majority of processed foods contain GMO ingredients.  GMOs are not meant for human or animal consumption, yet there are many hundreds of genetically altered products already being consumed by the public, and fed to our companion animals. 

A GMO is a plant, animal, microorganism, or other organism whose genetic makeup (and ultimately its microbiome) has been modified or changed in a laboratory using genetic engineering technology. 

This creates combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods (hybrid).  Inserting foreign DNA as well as synthetic into a species from outside of its own species alters that species and is called recombinant DNA.  Pesticides are inserted into these GMO crop seeds. 

Since pesticides are in the seeds, they cannot be washed off produce, and therefore are being consumed along with the fruit or vegetable. 

This genetic engineering process produces new traits.  For example, one variety of genetic tomato could have a gene in it from a cold water fish to stop the tomato from freezing when there is a frost, so it will have a longer shelf life.

These technologies are actually overthrowing the law of Nature when the public says “yes” to any technology that sounds feasible to make life easier.

The Natural Grocery Company had rallied 161 stores in a letter-writing campaign asking manufacturers about the GMO status of their products. 

The Big Carrot Natural Food Market developed its own Non-GMO purchasing policy after more than a year of research.  It combined its efforts into the Non-GMO Project with the goal of creating a standardized definition for Non-GMO products in the North American food industry. 

To give the project the rigorous scientific foundation and world-class technical support necessary for this great endeavor, the organization began working with Food Chain ID, the world leaders in Non-GMO testing, certification and consulting.  Since that time, the Project has added technical advisers, with a global reach of testing and verification services.  The third party technical administrators behind the Non-GMO Project began their work in the 1990s, just as GMOs entered the food supply.

In the spring of 2007, the project expanded its board of directors to include representatives with as many perspectives as possible, from all stakeholder groups in the natural products industry including consumers, retailers, farmers and manufacturers, all working together to give the organization a solid foundation. 

This dynamic board then formed advisory committees for both technical and policy issues.  After revising several early drafts of the Non-GMO Project Standard, the first products to bear “the Butterfly” reached the marketplace in early 2010. 

The Non-GMO Project Verified symbol brings you trustworthy information for avoiding GMOs using independent third party verifiers who conduct comprehensive tests and reviews of products. 

Unbiased technical teams are employed by the USDA Organic and many other certifiers as your assurance against greenwashing claims, making the Butterfly symbol much stronger than company self-assertions.

Products that bear the Non-GMO Project Verified Butterfly symbol are products in compliance with Non-GMO regulations and have not utilized genetic engineering of any kind.  

For the past 30 years GMOs, created in labs, have transformed the landscape of agriculture, and take up over 90 percent of U.S. cropland.  This technology, not by nature, has certainly accelerated severe threats to biodiversity, food security, and human health.

We depend on biodiversity, soil and ecological health for our very existence.  Simply put, a system of extracting resources that fails to restore what is taken and destroyed ultimately fails to produce anything at all.

Look for the Non-GMO Project seal on food packaging to ensure that the products you are purchasing are Non-GMO Project Verified.  There are over 60,000 products owned by more than 5,000 brands since 2010 bearing this seal, having more than $40 billion in sales and growing.   

Because of consumer demand across North America, Non-GMO Project Verified products remain one of  the fastest-growing sectors in the marketplace, and the “Butterfly” is the most trusted label for GMO avoidance among shoppers today.

The Non-GMO Project is committed to bringing you the most rigorously evaluated, independently assessed clean food in our marketplace represented  by the Non-GMO Project Verified label.  It’s your shortcut to avoiding GMOs, making it much easier to shop.  The Butterfly symbol gives you more peace of mind when food shopping.

Whatever denomination, culture, political affiliation, we all have a common denominator – food. It is everyone’s lifeline.

Remember to follow the “Butterfly.”  May the Butterflies be Free.

Gary Feldman is a former innovator in the nutritional supplement retail field with a first-of-its-kind catalog of all vegetarian name-brand supplements and cruelty-free personal care products, and did extensive research for customers.  Queens Library System Green Initiative.  Continuing ed instructor:  Great Neck Adult Program.

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