Celebrating Non-GMO Month


It’s October, which means it’s Non-GMO Month! As proponents of non-GMO foods, we thought we’d offer a refresher on what non-GMO means and why it matters.

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are plants and animals that have been developed by biotech companies to produce traits that are desirable or beneficial, often by combining genes from different species. The most widely known example of a GMO is a special strain of corn that has been bred to be pest and herbicide resistant; in doing so, a farmer can use a herbicide over an entire field and only kill unwanted weeds, not the corn itself.

While this may sound benign, there are a number of reasons to avoid GMOs - not only in our food but in our communities.

  • Protect the environment - Although GMOs have been bred to be intolerant to herbicides, they have actually led to an increase the total herbicides in use - as much as a 15x increase since GMOs were introduced. Furthermore, the widely used herbicide glyphosate (a key ingredient in Roundup weed killer) has been tied to extensive honey bee deaths. The extent and long term impacts of these practices are not fully understood.

  • Protect keiki (and everyone else) - Here in Hawai`i, GMOs are of particular concern because biotech companies use our ‘aina (land) as a testing and development ground for new chemical products. Despite increased concerns from the community, these companies have refused to disclose what chemicals are being sprayed or observe buffer zones around schools.

  • Support transparency - When it comes to the foods we eat, there are currently no GMO labeling requirements in Hawai`i or at the federal level. It’s up to you to be an informed consumer and make choices based on what’s important to you. The only way to be certain you’re avoiding GMO foods is to seek out foods that are certified organic (which are by definition GMO free) or verified by a third party organization such as the Non-GMO Project, North America’s most trusted seal for GMO avoidance.

In June 2018, Hawai`i became the first state to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxin that causes significant damage to brain development in children. The bill also establishes a 100 foot buffer zone around schools and requires disclosure of Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs) when they are used.

This is great news for public and environmental safety in Hawai`i. However, it is not a complete solution to the threats that GMOs and their associated pesticides pose. Furthermore, it is likely that biotech companies will continue to wield their political and financial power to push for laws that are more favorable to them.

Every Hawaiian Ola product is certified organic and verified by the Non-GMO Project. That means every time your purchase our products - or any other certified organic or non-GMO food, you’re voting with your dollars for a safer and healthier future - for all of us.

For more information, visit the Center for Food Safety.