Seward Co-op stands with the 92 percent of Americans who believe consumers have the right to know if their food contains genetically engineered ingredients. As part of our commitment to this belief, we support local and national organizations that educate consumers and advocate for mandatory labeling laws — organizations such as Right to Know Minnesota, Just Label It, the Truth in Labeling Coalition, Citizens for GMO Labeling, and the Non-GMO Project. Seward Co-op also is a member of the National Cooperative Grocers (NCG), a trade organization comprised of 143 retail food co-ops. NCG works with several organizations to fight the deregulation of GMOs at the regulatory and legal levels. We believe that GMO labeling will be a reality in the coming years.
Until that time, we are taking steps to ensure that we offer non-GMO alternatives. We prioritize certified-organic and products made without genetically engineered ingredients. Whenever possible, we provide shoppers with at least one certified-organic product choice in each food category where there is a likelihood of GMO content. Since organic certification does not allow for the use of genetically modified seeds, certified-organic products are the least likely to contain genetically modified ingredients.
The only instance in which we will carry new items that are likely to contain GMOs (those containing corn, soy, non-cane sugar, canola, cottonseed oil, papaya, or summer squash) is when the items meet a customer need that cannot be fulfilled by non-GMO alternatives. We strongly encourage our vendors to source non-GMO ingredients. Internally, we identify items that do not contain GMOs. Customers can ask for information about particular products at the Customer Service desk, and be connected to a staff person who makes buying decisions. Each year during GMO Right to Know Month, we provide a list of non-GMO products available at Seward Co-op. In order to be included on this list, products must either have been verified (or be in the process of verification) by the Non-GMO Project, or their raw material sourcing must be vetted by our buyers in collaboration with the product vendors. In addition, we provide education on the topic to help shoppers make informed choices. We routinely provide resources on GMO labeling on our website, through classes, and in articles in our newsletter. We encourage community involvement in this issue through social media updates and right to know/GMO labeling events throughout the year.