Wednesday, December 6

Island Voices: Non-GMO Project Has A Dark Side

Most consumers have seen the Non-GMO logos on bread and many other food products while shopping at the grocery store. Today in North America, the Non-GMO Project Verified logo is on more than 50,000 food products.

The first product to hit the market with the logo was in 2010, barely nine years ago. GMOs, known as genetically modified organisms, have attracted fierce criticism since they entered the food chain in 1994.

Genetically engineered crops such as canola, corn, and soy are grown by farmers and enter the food chain.

Since both the United States and Canada have a voluntary labeling regime for genetically modified food ingredients, it was almost impossible for anyone to avoid them.

The only option was to go organic, which is quite often 20 percent to 30 percent more expensive to purchase. Not everyone can afford the added prices.

The Non-GMO Project, a non-profit organization located in Bellingham, Washington, is essentially the product of a poor risk communication strategy by the biotechnology sector.

Biotechnology companies, such as Bayer and BASF, only have themselves to blame. For years, they sold their products to farmers without much considering the consumers as part of the social-acceptability equation.

And governments in both Canada and the United States have sanctioned the entire charade for almost three decades.

But the Non-GMO Project has its flaws, which are now being exposed by a greater number of organizations, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S.

Reports suggest now that some food companies are beginning to wonder if adding the logo on their packaging is still worth it. The U.S.-based non-profit organization, with revenues of over $2 million, slaps its label on just about any product, including salt, water, even orange juice.

Not only can salt and water not be genetically modified, but many Canadian consumers also are not aware that genetically engineered oranges in the marketplace do not exist.

As a result, the American FDA has recently notified the industry that it intends to crack down on exaggerated absence claims in the food industry. Suggesting, or implying that food products with the Non-GMO Project Verified label is safer and more nutritious is simply misleading and rests on scrawny scientific evidence.

Read the full article at Times Colonist