You may have noticed us mention a time or two that our cleaners are “GMO-free”. It’s a term many are starting to hear a lot more lately. If you aren’t already familiar, here’s a little overview:
First introduced in the mid 1990s, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) were intended to make crops more resistant to disease and pests, enhance production, and improve the nutritional quality of food. GMOs are the result of Genetic Engineering, where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Today, GMOs have sneaked their way into nearly everything—household cleaners included.
But why have GMOs become such a hot term and do they really matter? Here’s why being GMO-free is so important to us:
1) USDA Certified Organic always equals GMO-free
As the creator of the first USDA Certified Organic cleaners in the U.S., we follow some pretty strict standards. One of those guidelines surrounds the use of GMOs. The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program strictly prohibits the use of GMOs in all certified organic products.
We think that’s a pretty good requirement and a growing customer base agrees. According to the USDA, “consumers purchase organic products expecting that they maintain their organic integrity from farm to market, and USDA is committed to meeting these expectations. No matter where it was grown, if a product has the USDA Organic label on it, it wasn’t produced with GMOs.”
2) We support the right to know
One of the most frustrating things about GMOs is that The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently require labeling—making them nearly impossible to identify and even harder to avoid when it comes to every day purchases.
In 2016, a new, yet controversial law was passed, finally requiring the labeling of foods containing GMOs (although we won’t see this new law in action for a few more years). Many are unsatisfied with the new requirement, believing the freedom in which producers have to choose how they “label” an item is far too lenient, and the information will remain unclear to consumers.
The new labeling law will allow producers to identify GMOs in various ways, including words on a packaging label; a symbol (which has yet to be determined, and may or may not be universal); a phone number or web address customers must contact in order to obtain GMO information about their product; or a QR code that will link to a website. The options are troublesome to those who believe that disadvantaged consumers in poor or rural communities, and the elderly will still not have readily available means to access GMO information.
Non-GMO Project label on Whole Foods item.
We aren’t the only ones annoyed by the unknown. 70% of Americans say they don’t want GMOs in their food, and 92% say they want to see it on labels [Consumer Reports]. That is why we disclose every ingredient we use, to empower you to make an informed choice. Our USDA Certified Organic Seal is an immediate indicator you can trust that your purchase is GMO-free.
And we proudly stand by companies who have also pledged their support for GMO labeling. Whole Foods Market has made big plans to be the first major grocery chain to require GMO or non-GMO labeling on all foods by 2018.
3) We respect our environment
There isn’t much research on the effects of GMOs in standard household cleaners, but being GMO-free gives our customers one less unknown to worry about. Our mission has been to change the way you see cleaners, creating a product that is as pure as possible and free of any questionably harmful ingredients. GMOs simply don’t coincide with that ideology.
Besides being unnatural at their core, GMOs have been directly linked to an alarming increase in toxic herbicide use. Many GMO seeds were bred to withstand damage from chemical pesticides and herbicides, or create their own from within the plant itself. While weeds and pests would die off, the crop would remain intact. This might sound like a good thing, but, because of cross-pollination GMOs have now made their way into the weeds themselves. The result? A breed of so-called “super-weeds” able to resist herbicides, an in turn causing heavier use of these harmful chemicals.
GMOs and the weed and pest controls they require are linked to some of our biggest environmental issues. Recently, a noticeable decline in honey bees has brought national attention to GMOs and chemical pesticides. Ironically, bees are essential to pollinate many crops. But, they aren’t the only species to suffer, polluted runoff from agricultural threatens water quality and wildlife. Issues like toxic algae blooms suffocate aquatic life and inhibit local fishing economies and tourism. Fish, frogs, and other animal species are suffering from genetic mutations and mass kills.
Illustration of agricultural runoff
Mass algae blooms on the Shenandoah River caused by agricultural runoff. Credit: Shenandoah Riverkeeper
4) We support organic farmers
From dealing with pests and weeds to droughts and natural disasters, farming undoubtedly is a challenge. The introduction of GMOs in the mid-1990s was intended to make farming just a little bit easier. But, dedicated owners of organic farms didn’t take the easy way out, facing off with large-scale agriculture companies who have converted to raising genetically modified crops.
Since the 1990s, GM farms account for more than 90% of our soy, cotton, canola and sugar beets, 88% of corn, and more than half of all Hawaiian papaya, zucchini and yellow squash [2011 International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications Report]. Today, less than 1% of farms are certified organic.
The use of GMOs is strictly prohibited on certified organic farms. This means an organic farmer can't plant GMO seeds, and an organic dairy producer can't feed their cows genetically modified feed. Sounds simple enough, right? Organic farmers are up against many challenges, including the threat of uninvited GMOs contaminating their crops from cross-pollination, all while GM farms hold the competitive advantage of high crop yields and higher profit margins.
Greenshield Organic proudly stands behind organic farmers. Organic farms use fewer chemicals harmful to the environment, animal and human health. They are also great at sustaining long-term soil health and biodiversity, and help to support local economies. For these reasons we source ingredients from organic farmers at every opportunity.
5) Human health matters
The controversy that surrounds the use of GMOs largely stems from a lack of clear scientific understanding about their long-term impact on human health. Banned across Europe, China, India, and 16 other countries, GMOs have been linked to a host of medical issues in animals, including allergic reactions, organ damage, sterility, and death.
Greenshield Organic was created with the health of families in mind. Understudied and hotly debated, many argue that there is a positive correlation between certain human health issues (similar to those found in animals) and increasing GMO consumption, although conflicting studies exist.
Greenshield Organic CEO Adam McCarthy & family
These are reasons we pride ourselves in sourcing our ingredients from organic farms, to create organic products free of harmful pesticides, toxic chemicals and GMOs—to keep you, your family, and the environment just a little bit safer.
Want to avoid GMOs? Look for the USDA Certified Organic label anywhere you shop! Find us at a Whole Foods near you, or click here to see a complete list of retailers and online stores home to Greenshield Organic.