Why We Removed the Non-GMO Logo
by Loree Dowse | October 2017
Did you know that October is “Non GMO Month”? So it’s quite fitting that we have great news to share. News that very few people seem to know about: just how few GMO vegetables and fruits are commercially available!
We are fortunate to live in time where we can make so many food choices for ourselves. To buy organic vs. conventional; fresh vs. frozen vs. canned; local vs. global. We do not live in an area where extreme drought is causing starvation, or where epidemic disease has wiped out the ability to grow certain crops. We live in a world where we want it yesterday, fresh, year-round (imagine no salads in January!), looking and tasting perfect.
That being said, our director of corporate marketing and one of the owners at Mann’s – Gina Nucci – has written today’s post in order to dispel some of the myths and rumors swirling around GMO and non-GMO foods, particularly fresh produce.
My first point: The only GMOs commercially available in the U.S. are the following crops: soybeans, corn (field and sweet), papaya, potato, canola, cotton, alfalfa, sugar beets, summer squash and an apple (Artic).
My second point: There are no GMO crops grown in Monterey County, California
All of our vegetables are non-GMO. Broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, green beans, sugar snap peas, iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, etc. We have gone through the process of getting some Non-GMO Verified since consumers want to know and ask us weekly. We felt a third party certifier would be beneficial. However, with the proliferation of the Non-GMO Verified logo being used on products with no GMO possibilities, we felt an opportunity to educate our consumers, beyond just adding the ‘logo’ to our package.
GMO’s have become a very hot topic of late due to the wide variety of products with ingredients containing GMO crops. For example, corn is a GMO product that is included in a wide range of foods: whole kernel products (corn on the cob, canned/frozen niblets, popcorn, livestock feed, tortillas, corn chips, taco shells, pozole, etc.). Then there are the corn fractionalized products: dry milled (grits, flour, hominy, germ) & wet milled (steep water, gluten feed, gluten meal, starch products [sweeteners]). I am not going to talk about these much – they are extremely complex and most likely the primary reason the Non-GMO Verified Project came to existence in the first place. People want to know what’s in their food. I get it. As a mom to three young boys, I completely understand.
But for now, when we are talking about vegetables and fruit available in your local grocer’s produce section – this is what we will be drilling down on. This is what we can educate consumers on for now: the fact that there are no GMOs in lettuces, berries, broccolis, cauliflowers, celery, kale, kohlrabi, carrots, sugar snap peas, etc.
What is a GMO?
When people refer to genetically modified organisms – GMOs – they are referring to crops developed through genetic engineering, a more precise method of plant breeding. Genetic engineering, also referred to as biotechnology, allows plant breeders to take a desirable trait found in nature and transfer it from one plant or organism to the plant they want to improve, as well as make a change to an existing trait in a plant they are developing.
What’s the difference between GMO and Hybrid seeds?
For hybrid seeds, plant breeders use cross-pollination between plants. This usually takes place in green houses or the open field. With traditional breeding, thousands of genes get tossed together, requiring breeders to keep recrossing the plants to eliminate the undesirable traits. Mann Packing grows two very popular hybrids: Broccolini®, a cross between gai-lan and broccoli; and Sugar Snap Peas, a cross between a snow pea and an English pea. The traditional hybridization process takes years. It took breeders eight years to create the Broccolini seed, and twelve to come up with today’s sugar snap. Read our blog post about the birth of Broccolini here.
Genetic engineering, or biotechnology (GMOs) gets right to the point: breeders select the traits they want from an analysis of the plant’s genetic information and move them directly into the genetic code of the plant. Boom.
Why are there GMO’s?
There are many reasons that GMOs were created. One being to develop crops with pest resistant traits, and/or crops that are resistant to low-cost, environmentally safer herbicides. These crop varieties mean fewer and/or less troublesome chemicals are needed to control various crop pests.
GMOs have also been developed to improve nutritional content. For example “golden rice” (not yet on the market) contains higher vitamin A content to reduce blindness in impoverished communities. Other GMOs have been developed to extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables and to reduce food waste. Additionally, future GMOs could reduce drought susceptibility and improve nutrient uptake by crops.
For non-food use, GMOs may include plants or animals producing pharmaceutically important proteins for the creation of new vaccines. Gmoanswers.com is a great website for extensive information about the how’s and why’s of GMOs around the world.
Are GMOs Safe?
The American Medical Association, National Academy of Sciences, World Health Organization and the European Commission have all given approval to eat GMOs. There is extensive research showing that GMO products are safe to consume, just as there is overwhelming research showing that it is better to eat your vegetables – GMO corn included – than not.
What is the Non GMO Verified Project?
The Non-GMO Project is a nonprofit organization committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers and providing verified non-GMO choices. They believe everyone has a right to know what’s in their food and deserves access to non-GMO choices.
Why did Mann’s decide to use the logo in the first place and why are we removing it?
With our Fresh Leaf Farms rebrand and re-launch of our Single Cut™ Lettuces, we thought it would be beneficial to use the non-GMO verified logo on the packaging. This was the first time we had ever used it, and we were attempting to appeal to millennial customers who are demanding much more transparency about where their food comes from than previous generations.
When we prepared our packaging for Canada, we were told that we could not use the non-GMO verified logo there, because there are no GMO lettuces. This made us think deeper about the logo’s use and the perpetuation of food fears. The fact that we were also seeing the logo used on water, sea salt and – no joke – kitty litter made the decision an easy one.
We are removing the Non-GMO Verified logo from our packaging. We still list ‘non-GMO’ on some products, but that is also under review. We have our FAQs to share online letting consumers know that all of our vegetables are non-GMO, some still verified via the Non-GMO Verified Project. However, we will do our best to educate our consumers on the facts about GMO products and just how few there actually are in our Mann’s veggie world!