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Learn More About Fair Trade & Non-GMO

Non-GMO & Fair Trade Month
Fair Trade & Non-GMO October
 I want my food choices to reflect my interests in equality and the environment. I seek transparency about my food sources so that I can buy more foods that are Earth- and people-friendly. I want to know that I’m buying food from farms and companies that support my values.
I want my purchases to reflect my values. What does Fair Trade & Non-GMO October mean to me as a concerned shopper?
Non-GMO Certified

I’ve seen the Non-GMO Project label on a lot more food recently, and I wanted to know more about this organization and what they’re certifying.

Genetically modified organisms have their genes engineered by combining genetic material from animals, plants, bacteria, and viruses together into something that would likely never occur in nature. I am familiar with plant breeding, and I know that “genetic modification” refers to a completely different process.

I learned that products certified by the Non-GMO Project only have ingredients that are tested, traceable, and always separated from anything that could contain GMO ingredients.

Fairtrade Certified

I’ve also noticed Fairtrade Certified label on more products, especially my coffee, chocolate, and bananas. Why do these things need this label?

I learned that farmers in tropical countries, who grow bananas, chocolate and coffee, earn a lot less from these crops than they need to survive. They suffer poverty, lack of food, shelter, schooling, and poor resilience to crises like the pandemic.

I learned that some companies invest in tropical farming communities and make economic agreements that are more equitable to the farmers. The companies invest in infrastructure, like schools, wells, and facilities used to process the food. They also work to protect the environment, workers’ rights, and community ownership of the farms. Exploitation, like child labor, is forbidden and unnecessary, under these Fairtrade agreements. When I see the Fairtrade label on my food or clothing, I know I am buying something that supports my values about fairness to people.
Genuine Concerns, or Unscrupulous Marketing?
How am I to know which claims are genuine so I can buy the right products? How can I trust manufacturers to not be deceptive? It turns out that it takes an independent third party, one that is well-recognized and trustworthy, to verify that manufacturers’ claims are genuine, and verifiable. These independent third party organizations exist, and enforce rigorous standards on products that bear their seal. The Non-GMO Project and Fairtrade Certified are organizations that require lab testing, supply-chain transparency, and “identity preserved” ingredients. This means the certified ingredients are accompanied by a paper trail, and never mixed with other commodity ingredients in transportation and processing. It also means independent verification that the farms growing Fairtrade Certified ingredients and companies importing these ingredients are abiding by the Fairtrade Certified agreements every step of the process. 
Why do the things I want to support need these labels?
I learned that some companies would take advantage of my desire for these products by making claims that they can’t back up with evidence. Called, “greenwashing,” these claims are nothing but feel-good words to make me buy the products. It seems some companies know I am willing to pay a bit more for food and products that align with my values, so they put these claims on the labels in hopes I’ll make a quick decision to buy. If I look beneath the surface of these claims, there is nothing different about these products except deceptive marketing, but these feel-good claims seem to sell more products, so they are used more and more frequently.

Who to Trust, and Why?

I mentioned two of the independent verification organizations that certify foods as fair trade or GMO free. Fairtrade America and the Non-GMO Project are both nonprofits organized around their mission to improve food systems, in both the USA and around the world. I can see from their websites that both of these organizations have been around ten years or more, and many major brands use them to certify their products. They also publish their certification standards, so they are transparent about the requirements. Brands that have received certification print the seal on their packaging, and several brands carry both seals. The longevity of these organizations and the number of certified brands indicate that these are good tools by which to judge products’ alignment with my values.


We Hold These Values and Objectives at LifeSource

In October, LifeSource has special savings on products that are Non-GMO Project Verified, and Fairtrade Certified. Look for the Fairtrade America Certification, and the Non-GMO Project Verification symbols on brands we support. Together, we work towards increasing sustainability, and promoting our values. Try some new products, and discover your new favorites, at LifeSource!


Shared Objectives Among Both Certifiers

It is no coincidence brands are often certified by both organizations, since their objectives often overlap. For example, GMO seeds are banned under Fairtrade standards because GMO seed providers retain the rights to the genetics, so the seeds of the crops can not be saved or sold. There is also the question of the environmental impacts of GMO seeds, which are often designed for high pesticide input, rather than traditional farming.

Get the scoop on Fairtrade. Sign up to receive Fairtrade America’s newsletter and follow them on social media — @FairtradeMarkUS
Follow the Butterfly with the Non-GMO Project. Check out their recipes and like them on social media — @NonGMOProject.

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