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By Patricia Ellis

Non-GMO products are here to stay

The non-GMO movement is not going to disappear anytime soon. In fact, it is gaining momentum. All across the nation, people are demanding transparency; they want to know what is in their food. With over 80 percent of packaged food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), it's not hard to see why.

With the Senate officially blocking the DARK Act, states like Vermont now have the right to require mandatory GMO labeling. Starting in July, Vermont will be the first state to require it. This is a huge victory. Companies can no longer ignore what many of their consumers are insisting on: that they disclose whether their products contain GMOs.

Many companies are making the switch to non-GMO ingredients. Some of the major candy producers, like Hershey's, have decided to use non-GMO sugar. This means that they will no longer be utilizing beet sugar, which is typically a GMO crop, but will now use sugar cane.

Del Monte Foods announced in late March that a majority of its product line will eliminate GMO ingredients. Even though Del Monte has always used GMO-free fruits and vegetables, the sweeteners have come from GMO sources. They will now label all non-GMO products in their line.

U.S. Cargill started producing non-GMO corn and soybean products and is already reporting a 50 percent jump in sales so far for the 2016 fiscal year. The company is expanding their business in organic chicken as well.

Other companies are setting the standard by choosing to voluntarily label their products. Companies like Mars, General Mills, Kellogg's, ConAgra, and Campbell's Soup are responding to their customers' requests. It is likely that this move will push others to follow suit.

Costco is taking a big step as well. They are working with farmers, helping them to buy land and equipment to grow organic products. By helping farmers to grow organic, non-GMOed crops, Costco hopes to ensure they have enough produce to meet the growing demand of their consumers.

It is the hope of many consumers that in the near future most companies will sport the non-GMO Project seal. The Non-GMO Project offers verification and labeling for non-GMO foods and products. It is the only North American organization that provides this. Nearly 35,000 products from 2,500 brands sport their orange butterfly seal. More companies are in the process of being verified at this very moment.

Whole Foods Market regularly carries 11,500 products verified by the Non-GMO Project. This national grocery chain is the first to commit to providing complete GMO transparency by 2018. They are working with their national, local and regional meat suppliers to encourage farmers who don't already do so to use non-GMO feed. Also, they are striving to provide non-GMO versions of the five "high-risk" types of produce: edamame, Hawaiian papaya, yellow summer squash, sweet corn, and zucchini. The company is well on their way to meeting their deadline.

The non-GMO movement is definitely making headway. With all the major companies that are responding to the request for non-GMO labeling, it is easy to see that non-GMO products are here to stay.

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