Day 18

Non-GMO

SPONSORED BY RW GARCIA

OVERVIEW

“The FDA has placed the interest of a handful of biotechnology companies ahead of their responsibility to protect public health. By failing to require testing and labelling of genetically engineered foods, the agency has made consumers unknowing guinea pigs for potentially harmful, unregulated food substances.” ~ Andrew Kimbrell, Founder & Executive Director, Center for Food Safety

You might be asking yourself, what on earth is a GMO. Don’t worry you’re not alone! In fact, many people have never even heard of GMOs, despite the fact that they’re probably consuming them every single day. And unless you live in one of the 60-plus countries around the world, (including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union) which have significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs, you’re probably eating them too! Yes, YOU.

GMO stands for “Genetically Modified Organism,” and the phrase refers to plants or animals that have been genetically engineered to produce a specific set of characteristics. This is much different from traditional breeding practices, where different breeds of the same species are combined to produce favorable traits. With modern GMO’s, DNA is taken from a completely different species (like a fish or virus) and inserted into a crop (like a tomato) to transfer genetic traits. These experimental combinations of genes cannot and do not occur naturally.

Most commercial GMOs are engineered specifically to be more tolerant to large applications of herbicides and pesticides, like Roundup Ready, a chemical fertilizer created by the corporate giant Monsanto, which controls 80% of the GM corn market and 93% of the GM soy market. Our partners at GMO Inside have the scoop on Monsanto here. Roundup’s main ingredient is glyphosate, which was found by the World Health Organization to be a “probable human carcinogen” in May 2015.

Contrary to popular belief, GMOs have actually caused the use of pesticides and herbicides to skyrocket, leaving more chemical residue on crops for consumers to ingest. While much of the research around GMOs is conflicting, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health issues, environmental damage, and violations of farmers’ and consumers’ rights. To make matters worse, the long-term health effects of GMOs on both people and the planet are virtually unknown, and almost all studies that “prove” the safety of GMO’s are funded by the very biotechnology corporations that profit from GMO sales. Sounds like the plot of a scary sci­fi movie, right?

Most millennials were born into a GMO world. Today, an estimated 80% of food on supermarket shelves contain GMOs, something not stated on ingredient labels. This past summer, a controversial law was passed in the United States that preempts the mandatory labeling initiatives already passed in several states and makes it deliberately difficult for consumers to know whether their food is genetically modified or not. EcoWatch called this law a Failure of Democracy.

Fortunately, a growing number of people are becoming informed and demanding corporate food giants to keep it real and label GMOs. In the absence of meaningful mandatory labeling in the United States, our partners at the Non­GMO Project are working hard to protect non-GMO food in a different way, by creating a voluntary labeling system by which food companies could meet the consumer demand for non-GMO choices, thereby changing the supply chain and preserving safe, healthy food for future generations.

The rest of the world is already ahead of the United States – 64 other countries have responsible mandatory GMO labeling laws! In fact, grassroots organizations around the world are having success in resisting GMO’s and pressure from Monsanto. A group of activists who occupied the base of a construction site for Monsanto in Argentina for three years succeeded in getting Monsanto to retreat from their city! And this week, US seed developer Monsanto is facing charges related to “ecocide” in a mock trial being staged by anti-GM food activists in The Hague. Check it out here and also here.

As consumers, we have the power to find and choose non-GMO products to support a safe and health food supply. When in doubt, choose USDA Certified Organic products, which by definition cannot contain GMO ingredients, and to look for the butterfly – the Non-GMO Project’s seal – North America’s only independent verification for products made according to rigorous best practices for GMO avoidance.

CHALLENGE

Green

20 POINTS

 

THINK

This past summer, a controversial law was passed in the United States that makes it deliberately difficult for consumers to know whether their food is genetically modified or not. EcoWatch called this law a Failure of Democracy. Check out this video made by Turning Green student leaders addressed to President Obama’s daughters, urging them to ask their father to veto the DARK Act. Even though the law did pass, individuals and organizations are still working hard towards policy reform.

CHALLENGE

To gain a better understanding of GMOs and the breadth of information that is available, take a look at our Non-­GMO Pinterest board and browse through The Organic and Non-GMO Report.

  • Research a person that is a leader in the GMO movement and tell us what inspires you about this individual
  • Find a really informative infographic and video that can explain GMOs and their impact on health and the planet to your peer group
  • What’s your take-away? In one paragraph, share your final perspective on GMOs.

 

DELIVERABLES

Upload a PFD Document with your responses and links.
Please include your name (or team name), username, email address, and school.
Submission Guidelines

  • Please submit all entries as PDFs – no word or pages docs.
  • Please save filenames using the following format: firstname_lastname_challengeday_challengelevel_year.pdf (ex: kasie_shils_day1_greener_2016.pdf)
  • Do not include # in filenames
  • Please be sure to include all content for your submission in one doc
  • Do not upload a file bigger than 5 MB
  • Link images if possible
  • You will get a confirmation that your submission uploaded correctly. If you did not get a confirmation, please try again.
  • If your total points do not change, your submission did not load correctly and you will have to try again.
  • Send any questions you have to info@turninggreen.org
  • Don’t forget to post about the challenge and your learnings/doings on social media and tag us on Facebook @TurningGreen, on Twitter @TurningGreenOrg, and on Instagram @TurningGreenOrg and use #PGC2016.
The deadline for entering this challenge has past.

Greener

40 POINTS

THINK

The list of common ingredients that are now almost entirely made from GMO crops is astounding. And, food companies are not required to test these GMO ingredients for pesticides or other harmful effects, and they don’t have to tell you when they put GMOs in your favorite foods. The passage of The Dark Act (S. 764) this year preempts allmandatory labeling laws already passed at the state level and puts the burden on the consumer to discover if a product contains GMOs or not.

 

CHALLENGE

Select three packaged food items you consume on a regular basis.

  • Are any of these foods Non-GMO Project Verified or USDA Certified Organic?
  • Of those that aren’t, do they contain any ingredients that are at high risk of being genetically modified?
  • Write down the high risk ingredients you found in each item.
  • Did your findings surprise you?
  • Visit your local independent green grocer, local co-op, Whole Foods, or an online food retailer and find a NonGMO Project Verified or USDA Certified Organic version of each of the packaged food items you investigated.
  • How do the ingredients in your non-GMO version compare to the original?
  • How will what you’ve discovered today change your food purchasing decisions?
  • Present your findings in a visual format with a side-by-side comparison of the three products and their Non-GMO version. Caption each with their key ingredients and something you learned that you want to teach forward.

 

DELIVERABLES

Upload a PDF Document with the names and brands of your selected foods, the GMO information for each, and responses to the other questions. Include photos of your products and the non-GMO alternatives with your captions.
Please include your name (or team name), username, email address and school.

 

Submission Guidelines

  • Please submit all entries as PDFs – no word or pages docs.
  • Please save filenames using the following format: firstname_lastname_challengeday_challengelevel_year.pdf (ex: kasie_shils_day1_greener_2016.pdf)
  • Do not include # in filenames
  • Please be sure to include all content for your submission in one doc
  • Do not upload a file bigger than 5 MB
  • Link images if possible
  • You will get a confirmation that your submission uploaded correctly. If you did not get a confirmation, please try again.
  • If your total points do not change, your submission did not load correctly and you will have to try again.
  • Send any questions you have to info@turninggreen.org
  • Don’t forget to post about the challenge and your learnings/doings on social media and tag us on Facebook @TurningGreen, on Twitter @TurningGreenOrg, and on Instagram @TurningGreenOrg and use #PGC2016.
The deadline for entering this challenge has past.

Greenest

60 POINTS

Up to 125 Points. Awarded at the Discretion of the PGC Team.

Due October 30, 2016 at 6 am PT

THINK

It just so happens that some of the most popular snack foods (i.e. processed, packaged foods) often contain GMOs. In this challenge, we are inviting you to share what you’ve learned about GMOs with friends and family.
 

CHALLENGE

Host a non-GMO study break.

  • Set a date, create a guest list and make an invitation that provides a list of non-GMO items your friends might consider bringing. These could be as simple as USDA certified organic tortilla chips and salsa or more elaborate goodies.
  • Invite people to your study break via email, listserv, text, posters; you name it ­­– and post about your special study break on your social networks.
  • Select a great documentary or short film on the subject of GMOs to screen at your gathering. (You can visit our Pinterest board for some inspiration!)
  • Watch the film and lead a discussion about GMOs. Were they surprised by the video content? Film some of their responses and take pictures.
  • Ask each guest to talk about the snack they brought, as everyone tastes it. Ask your guests to talk about why they chose it, where they bought it, and whether they’d buy it again. Make sure to take a picture of all the non-GMO snacks before they are devoured.
  • Include a couple of quotes from friends about what they have learned and how they will act on this wisdom in the future.
  • Together, come up with one actionable idea for raising awareness and/or promoting non-GMO on campus. Create a plan to implement your idea.
  • Post a photo of the whole group and snacks to a social platform of your choice. Tag @NonGMOProject and @TurningGreenOrg and use the hashtags #nongmo and #PGC2016.

 

DELIVERABLES

Send us a PDF Document with a full write up of your study break, complete with photos, links to any video, quotes, etc. Upload your video footage to YouTube and send us the link(s). Include a screenshot of your social media post.
Please include your name (or team name), username, email address, and school name.

Submission Guidelines

  • Please submit all entries as PDFs – no word or pages docs.
  • Please save filenames using the following format: firstname_lastname_challengeday_challengelevel_year.pdf (ex: kasie_shils_day1_greener_2016.pdf)
  • Do not include # in filenames
  • Please be sure to include all content for your submission in one doc
  • Do not upload a file bigger than 5 MB
  • Link images if possible
  • You will get a confirmation that your submission uploaded correctly. If you did not get a confirmation, please try again.
  • If your total points do not change, your submission did not load correctly and you will have to try again.
  • Send any questions you have to info@turninggreen.org
  • Don’t forget to post about the challenge and your learnings/doings on social media and tag us on Facebook @TurningGreen, on Twitter @TurningGreenOrg, and on Instagram @TurningGreenOrg and use #PGC2016.
The deadline for entering this challenge has past.