Last summer, we became the first tea company to be verified by the Non-GMO Project, an initiative of the organic and natural product industry to create a standardized definition of non-GMO and verify product compliance. As the first exclusively organic tea company in the United States, we felt that having our Original Line of teas Non-GMO verified was an important step in continuing our support of sustainable agriculture and our commitment to producing safe, healthy, and high-quality teas. This October, we’re celebrating the second annual Non-GMO Month, focused on spreading public awareness about GMOs.
If you’re not familiar with them, GMOs or genetically modified organisms are plants and animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology (also known as genetic engineering). This technology combines DNA from different sources to create combinations of plant, animal, bacterial, and viral genes that would not otherwise occur in nature or traditional crossbreeding. A common application of this technology in commercial crops is the creation of plant varieties that are tolerant of herbicides or produce their own pesticide within their plant structure. While this can be useful in preventing a particular pest or weed from attacking a GMO crop, many of these crops are meant to be used along with toxic herbicides or pesticides that can have harmful effects on the surrounding environment.
Another concern is the long term safety and health effects of GMO crops on the environment and humans, since this technology is relatively new. The studies done to approve these crops in the U.S. were conducted by the companies creating and profiting from this technology. Many countries around the world have either significantly restricted or banned the production and sale of GMOs, but the United States does not even require GMO containing foods to be labeled.
While we’re not experts on genetic engineering, we do believe that consumers have a right to know what is in their food. Because GMO labeling is not currently required, the Non-GMO Project is the first step toward informing consumers and allowing them to choose whether the foods they eat are products of genetic engineering or not.
How do you feel about GMOs? Would you like to see GMO foods labeled? For more information, check out the Non-GMO Project website.