Right to Know GMO
GMOs: What They Are, Why They’re a Concern
Our customers are increasingly concerned about GMO products. GMOs are Genetically Modified Organisms, or genetic engineering used to force DNA from one species into a different species. The products developed this way do not occur in nature or in traditional breeding. The technology is new enough that it hasn’t been thoroughly tested, so it’s not clear what affect it may have on the humans who consume these products, or even how stable the products are.
While GMOs have not been thoroughly researched, studies that have been conducted raise concerns for both human and environmental health. Many countries around the world, including Japan, China, Australia and all of the European Union states, have either banned such foods or require that products that contain them be clearly marked. The U.S. has not followed suit.
What might give you pause is the prevalence of GMO products. The Center for Food Safety estimates that nearly 70% of processed foods in the U.S. have some GMO ingredients, and up to 85% of corn and 90% of soybeans do as well.
What Lakewinds Does
We support our shoppers’ rights to make informed purchase decisions. We want you to have the educational resources you need to make the best decisions for you and your family. That includes the right to know what is in the foods you buy and eat.
There are two ways to find non-GMO products in our stores. When the USDA produced standards for the USDA Certified Organic Label, it included the requirement that products certified organic must also be GMO-free. As certified organic products are a major part of our mission, you will find many of these in our stores.
In addition, in 2007 a nonprofit called the Non-GMO Project was established. The Non-GMO Project created a third-party verification system for food producers with a consistent set of standards and processes that could be used to separate the GMO foods from the Non-GMO at the grocery store.
These processes include requiring every provider within a specific product to be cleared as non-GMO through audits and DNA testing. Low-risk products can be verified quickly, but more complex foods and products can take months. To date, the Non-GMO Project has verified more than 5,000 products, including many national organic brands. These products are labeled, and Lakewinds carries many of them and will continue to add products as they become verified.
In addition, Lakewinds is a proud member of the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), which is made up of 134 retail co-ops and their 1.3 million shoppers and owners. NCGA is a founding member of the National Organic Coalition, and a partner in the Just Label It campaign, which calls for mandatory labeling of GMOs. Lakewinds is a strong supporter of the Just Label It campaign!
Are All Lakewinds Products Non-GMO?
Part of our co-op model is to work closely with our suppliers in order to understand how they produce their products. Our highest priority is to sell products that are natural, organic and GMO-free whenever possible.
But there’s a caveat to that statement: without a standardized labeling protocol across all food companies, it’s nearly impossible for us to know whether a product might contain GMOs. Because food production can be highly complex, we cannot 100% guarantee that some products do not contain GMOs. However, we do examine every product carefully by evaluating it against our product standards. Our highest priority is to sell products that are natural, organic and GMO-free whenever possible.
What Can Consumers Do About GMOs?
You can shop at Lakewinds and look for products that are certified organic and/or labeled as verified by the Non-GMO Project.
You can also take action: contact your legislators and ask them to support mandatory labeling of GMO foods. Find your Minnesota legislator.
You can also contact manufacturers directly and let them know you’re concerned about GMOs.