Connecticut mom Diana Reeves got frustrated that policy efforts in her state were going nowhere in protecting consumers from unlabeled Genetically Modified Organisms in food. This, despite independent scientists’ questions about the long-term health effects of GMOs. So, Reeves started educating and empowering other parents to learn the facts about this relatively new part of our food system and demand that top food brands be responsive. She started GMO Free USA.
Her efforts have grown exponentially; yet they hinge on the simple idea that word-of-mouth is how we best share information with each other.Reeves not only tragically lost her 4 1/2 year old son, Robby, to an apparently non-genetic cancer, but among her three surviving children her family has learned to cope with celiac disease and autoimmune disorders. While there’s no way to make a direct connection with these ongoing health concerns, Reeves shared, “We only eat GMO-free now. We just don’t risk it.” She’s suspicious of reports that Bt toxins, purposefully added to some GM crops to attack insects’ stomachs, seem to coincide with leaky gut. She’s concerned about skyrocketing rates of autoimmune disease, and she’s disturbed by reports of Bt found in the blood of pregnant women.
Ohio resident Zach Myers is also concerned about what his two young children are eating. This GMO Free USA member grows most of his family’s own organic food. Myers shared, “As a parent, it’s vital to understand that the well being of our children lies in fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy that haven’t been genetically modified or by eating meat and dairy that haven’t been fed grain that is GMO. I know it may seem hard to understand that the food supply in this country is extremely corrupt, but without this understanding the health and well being of our family is at the mercy of the store bought brands.” Myers is creator of indie, USA-made clothing brand Zace Denim. I asked him if as an entrepreneur he sees hope for smaller food companies to fill the gap for GMO-free foods? He answered, “Yes, I see hope. But it lies in the hands of the people and the farmer to make the change.”
GMO Free USA engages thousands of people to be thoughtful about their consumer power and do the research before buying brands that might contain GMO ingredients. These brands are plentiful, since top GMO ingredients used today include corn, soy and sugar from beets used in many processed foods. The group is actively boycotting the Kellogg company in the effort to let it know that informed consumers tend to not want the GMO ingredients that GMO Free USA suspects it uses. The breakfast cereal company is also the parent of some so-called “natural” food brands on the market, which could also legally contain GMOs if not certified USDA organic. After Kellogg, the group will be boycotting other major brands in the marketplace. Kellogg has not responded to Flour Sack Mama’s questions about its stance on GMOs or reaction to the boycott. Myers and others see the boycotts as effective ways to increase public awareness.
GMO Free USA hosts and promotes showings of the Genetic Roulette movie that offers extensive background on the science behind the health concerns. You can also find a free educational poster and links to other resources at the GMO Free USA website.Reeves is determined to make sure that her son’s legacy makes a positive difference for other children. She feels compelled to continue educating about the dangers of GMOs. I asked her why she’s so active in this movement, “I can’t wait for somebody else to do this,” she shared.