An Idea Whose Time Has Come

October 31, 2011

“You can resist an invading army; you cannot resist an idea whose time has come.”

– Victor Hugo

It was almost exactly two months ago that I began my work as Communications Manager with the Non-GMO Project. What I have seen over the past eight weeks is nothing less than mind blowing. The Non-GMO Project is a small organization, but our impact is mighty. Our strength comes from the sheer size and commitment of the global network of people and organizations that we work with on a daily basis to help maintain a non-GMO food supply and to support consumer choice.

As a child of the 1980’s, I remember being deeply impacted by the Hands Across America campaign. Over 7 million people held hands across the United States to help raise money for the homeless. What I learned on that day is that if you have enough people working together, anything is possible. This image has come back to me numerous times as I witness the incredible twitter stream of love (yes love!) and support from people that are involved in all aspects of non-GMO work. Yes, tweeting may not be as symbolic as holding hands, but believe me—we are connected.

In October, several major campaigns launched across the country, each with its own objectives and goals, but all connected by a deep concern over the dangers of GMOs in our food supply. The Non-GMO Project kicked off our second Non-GMO Month with over 1,000 retailers involved.  During the month, retailers showcased products that are Non-GMO Project Verified and found creative ways to engage their customers in the issues related to GMOs. Out of a deep commitment to the mission of informed choice, retailers posted materials to educate their shoppers, hosted events, connected via social media, and had countless conversations.

On October 4th, a separate initiative, Just Label It launched a national campaign to advocate for the labeling of genetically modified foods. The outreach campaign supports an official petition calling on the FDA to label GMOs. They have joined with over 300 organizations (including the Non-GMO Project!) representing millions of Americans to ask for the right to make informed choices about what they eat. Since its launch a month ago, the Just Label It campaign has sent close to 300,000 comments to the FDA.

Meanwhile, the Right2Know March, a March demanding labeling of GMOs, began on October 1st in New York and culminated with a rally at the White House on October 16th.  The marchers, including Non-GMO Project Outreach Coordinator Chris Keefe, walked on average 20 miles a day, stopping in neighborhoods and grocery stores to share information about the importance of GMO labeling. The March provided an awesome opportunity to bring national visibility to the importance of our right to know what is in our food. It also provided us the opportunity to reach people who would otherwise never hear about these issues.

While the Right2Know March was walking their way to the White House on the East Coast, a campaign was launched on the West Coast to put a GMO labeling initiative on the 2012 California ballot. If passed, this initiative would mandate labeling of foods that contain GMOs.  This effort is just beginning, but we anticipate it will bring a large amount of attention to many of the key concerns about GMOs in our food supply.

The sum of all of these efforts is a huge amount of impact: from consumers exercising their ability to vote with their wallets, to retailers educating shoppers; from manufacturers getting their products “Non-GMO Project Verified,” to organizations that work tirelessly to fight for our right to know what we are eating—together we are making a difference. According to SPINs data, since October of last year sales of Non-GMO Project verified products have surpassed a billion dollars, not including Wal-Mart or Whole Foods! The Non-GMO Project Verified label claim is the fastest growing segment in the natural products industry. These numbers are just one indicator of an amazing cumulative effort. Together, we are making a difference. Every purchase, tweet, signature, and email has an impact. We may not be holding hands, but we are connected through our actions. Let’s keep up the good work!

- Courtney Pineau, Non-GMO Project Communications Manager