Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), Genetically Engineered (GE) foods, Frankenfoods: these are scary-sounding terms that aptly sum up my feelings about food biotechnology. In fact, I used to want to run to the hills when thinking about GMO ingredients lurking in my family’s favorite foods.
My opposition to GMO foods is long-standing. It is rooted in my environmental concerns about these agricultural technologies, health concerns, and my core beliefs about farming. Completely avoiding the big three GMO crops—soy, corn, and canola—is difficult.
It is easy to become discouraged, apathetic, or just plain confused amid the labeling controversy and claims made by various sellers of natural food products and the fact that so many people around you don’t seem to know or care about GMO foods.
Thankfully GMO Free NJ has come to the rescue! A pair of Collingswood mothers started this wonderful, upbeat group to raise awareness about GMOs and provide mutual support for those of us seeking change.
My first contact with GMO Free NJ occurred at the Collingswood Green Fest last spring. They were giving out handmade bookmarks with simple steps people can take to reduce their consumption of GMO foods. On the back of the bookmarks is the famous Margaret Mead quote which captures the ethos of the group:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
I was excited to become a part of the group. GMO Free NJ actively seeks to engage people of all ages, including children, and for us all to learn more about the food we eat, together. All the group’s activities are family-friendly, and meetings typically include a documentary, snacks, and thoughtful discussion.
In the spirit of mutual collaboration and community-building, an active GMO Free NJ Facebook page is updated daily with ideas for avoiding GMO foods, updates on national GMO issues, and how we might take action within our community and lives. It’s refreshing to be a part of a group with such a positive outlook.
GMO Free NJ is currently working to support the passage of Proposition 37, a referendum that would require the labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients, in California this November.
Proposition 37 is important because it will make visible which food products contain genetically modified ingredients. Stronger labeling in California will most likely lead to stronger labeling throughout the United States, as it would be too costly for food companies individually to label their products.
GMO Free NJ has also partnered with environmental group Food and Water Watch to urge our own state legislators to take action on labeling GMO foods. We are requesting NJ state legislators to draft a bill that would require the labeling of genetically modified foods sold within New Jersey.
Last Saturday, members of GMO Free NJ convened at Knight Park to take a picture that will be used in a video project to show Californians that people across the nation support their passage of Proposition 37. We reached out to families at the playground to tell them what we were doing and give them an opportunity to get involved. Some chose to be in our picture!
We also worked on a video project that will explore one thing we are each doing to be free of genetically modified foods. We are encouraging people to call friends and/or relatives in California to ask for their “Yes” vote on Proposition 37.
To learn more about GMO Free NJ and get involved, please join us at the Collingswood Public Library at one of our fall meetings: