For supporters of non-GMO foods, the bad news in 2012 was that Proposition 37, California’s initiative to label genetically modified foods lost in a close election.
But looking at the big picture there was tremendous progress for GM food labeling and for the non-GMO movement. In fact, in my 13 years covering the non-GMO trend, 2012 was the best year yet.
Here are many reasons why:
More than 6 million people voted for Prop 37. Though outspent more than five to one, the Yes on 37 campaign won 48.5% of the vote and raised awareness of the GMO issue among millions of people nationwide
Prop 37 spawned new coalitions such as GMO-Free USA, GMO Inside, and the Coalition of States for Mandatory GMO Labeling that will continue to raise awareness of GMOs and fight for mandatory labeling
Just Label It generated 1.2 million comments to the US Food and Drug Administration supporting a petition to require GM food labeling nationwide. More than 600 organizations support this petition
Organizers in Washington state launched an initiative, I-522, to pass a GM food labeling law and gathered enough signatures to put it on the ballot in 2013
Legislation to label GM foods was introduced in about 20 US states. Bills in Vermont and Connecticut were passed by committees
City councils in Cincinnati, Ohio and Honolulu, Hawaii passed resolutions calling for mandatory GM food labeling
Food & Water Watch launched a “Let Me Decide” campaign to label GM foods in US states
Surveys by IBOPE Zogby International and the Mellman Group found overwhelming support for GM food labeling in the US
There are now about 100 GMO-free and “Millions Against Monsanto” groups in the US
Sales of Non-GMO Project verified products reached $2.4 billion from October 2011 to October 2012, a 66% increase over the previous year
More than 1500 retailers participated in the third annual Non-GMO month, the highest number to date
Kaiser Permanente, the largest managed healthcare provider in the US, warned about the risks of GMOs and gave tips on avoiding them in its newsletter
Several films and books about the dangers of GMOs were released in 2012. Films include Bitter Seeds, Genetic Roulette, Seeds of Death, and Seeds of Freedom. Books include Label It Now and Altered Genes, Twisted Truth
San Juan County in Washington state passed a law banning production of GM crops and joined Mendocino, Marin, and Trinity in California as the first GMO-free counties in the US
Organizers in Jackson County, Oregon have gathered enough signatures to put a GMO-free ordinance on the ballot for the next election
GMO-free ordinances were passed in several cities in British Columbia including Richmond, Saanich, and Metchosin
Beekeepers in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula succeeded in stopping plantings of GM soy in eight Mexican states
Several nations, including France, Switzerland, Peru, and Kenya have either banned production or imports of GMOs. Russia banned imports of a GM corn after a published study found that it caused cancer in rats
The European Network of GMO-Free Regions grew to 57 members with the addition of the German states of Schleswig-Holstein, Saarland, and Baden-Württemberg (European regions are the equivalent of US states)
Hungary joined with Croatia to create the Alps-Adriatic GMO-Free Region
The Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal, declared itself a GMO-free zone
An Indian parliamentary committee and technical committee of India’s Supreme Court have recommended a ban on GM crops in the country
61 nations now enforce consumer “right to know” laws for GM foods. India and South Africa were the most recent countries to pass laws requiring GM food labeling
Congratulations to the following organizations that fought for the right to know, educated Americans about GMO risks, took action to stop the proliferation of GMOs, and supported the growth of the Non-GMO movement in 2012: Non-GMO Project, Center for Food Safety, Organic Consumers Association, Institute for Responsible Technology, Food Democracy Now, Just Label It, California Right to Know, Food & Water Watch, GMO Inside, GM Watch, Cornucopia Institute, and Organic & Non-GMO Report. Organic and natural food companies leading the way included Nature’s Path Organic, Lundberg Family Farms, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, Amy’s, Nutiva, Dr. Mercola, Seed Savers Exchange, Organic Valley, Frontier Natural Products Co-op, and others.
The New Year promises to be an even better with greater progress and increased consumer awareness, as we work toward the inevitable tipping point for consumers’ right to know and meet the growing demand for safe, healthy, and sustainable non-GMO foods.
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