What are GMOs? This question is difficult to answer. Since the mid-1990s, GMO has commonly referred to an organism which has been modified to include genes from another species. Take insect-resistant corn as an example: soil bacterium genes have been inserted, turning the GMO corn itself into a pesticide.
In a new generation of genetic modification, often called GMO 2.0, genes within a single species are edited, deleted, silenced, or even generated by computers. Synthetic biology—one version of GMO 2.0—involves manipulating algae, bacteria, and yeast cells to manufacture compounds originally derived from plants or animals. Vanillin produced by genetically modified yeast hit stores in 2014, and dairy milk produced without a cow could debut this year. Saffron, stevia, rose oil, and patchouli are other flavors and fragrances also in the works.
Another GMO advancement, CRISPR, employs laboratory precision to edit and delete genes at an astonishing pace. What once took decades of observation and trait selection performed by farmers in the field has been reduced to just weeks at the hands of engineers in the lab. Meatier pigs, disease-resistant cattle, and non-browning mushrooms are a few of the gene-edited foods that consumers face finding on their plate largely unregulated.
Most Americans want these products identified, and with good reason. The scientific community worldwide hasn’t reached consensus around food safety and GMOs. Despite restrictions and labeling requirements by over 60 countries, unlabeled GMO ingredients exist in an estimated 60% of packaged foods sold in the U.S.
At New Morning, we are committed to offering food that is free of GMOs. We’re a supporting retailer of the Non-GMO Project: An independent third-party verifier which tests for GMO presence in over 43,000 products, from baby food to body care. Their certification label can be found on products throughout New Morning, with many on sale for Non-GMO Month.