2012 was a year of great progress for the non-GMO movement. The Non-GMO Project grew exponentially, seeing coverage in Vogue and “O” Magazine and a Facebook fan base passing the 100,000 mark. Landmark efforts for mandatory labeling at home and abroad helped catapult the GMO issue into the mainstream, and consumer demand for non-GMO choices went off the charts.
While we still have our work cut out for us in 2013, we head into the new year buoyed by recent successes and riding a growing tidal wave of support.
Here are our top 10 highlights of the Right to Know Movement in 2012:
1. Over 1 million signatures on Just Label It Petition to FDA
This ongoing effort for mandatory GMO labeling in the United States has collected more than twice as many signatures as any other food-related petition in the FDA’s history. In March 2012, signatures surpassed 1,000,000 and the list of supporters continues to grow.
2. Historic vote on mandatory labeling in CA
In spite of a $46 million misinformation campaign by the chemical companies that make GMOs, in November nearly half of California voters still voted in favor of prop 37 for mandatory GMO labeling. Although the measure did not pass, it raised unprecedented awareness, and 30 other states are now working on mandatory labeling initiatives.
3. Peru passes monumental ten-year ban on genetically engineered foods
In Peru this November, a 10-year ban came into effect on the importation, production and use of GMOs. According to Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar Vidal, the law is designed to support local farmers and preserve Peru’s biodiversity.
4. Non-GMO product sales surpass $2.4 billion annually
Since it first appeared on products in 2010, the Non-GMO Project Verified seal has become one of the fastest-growing labels in the natural products industry. As consumers increasingly seek out this third-party stamp of approval, annual sales topped $2.4 billion at the end of the third quarter.
5. Monsanto Loses to Beekeepers of Yucatan Peninsula
In August, courts ruled in favor of a coalition of 59 beekeepers, environmentalists, and NGOs seeking to block cultivation of GMO soy on 626,412 acres in eight Mexican states. According to Director of Agricultural Development Simon Treviño Alcantara, European businesses had suspended the purchase of honey from Yucatan and Quintana Roo pending evidence that the product is not contaminated with GMOs.
6. Genetic Roulette Documentary puts spotlight on health risks of GMOs
This new documentary from author Jeffrey Smith features testimony from healthcare practitioners, scientists, veterinarians, parents, and others about the health risks of genetically modified foods. During the first free showing week in September, the film was viewed more than 1.25 million times.
7. Brazil orders Nestlé to label GM products
After analysis showed that the soy in one of Nestlé’s cookies was more than half GMO, a Brazilian court ordered Nestlé to implement labeling on all products containing more than 1% GMO. The court also implemented a fine of R5,000 ($2,382) for any product found out of compliance.
8. Third annual Non-GMO Month sees record-breaking participation
During October, more than 1,500 natural food retailers took part in Non-GMO Month by educating their communities about the GMO issue and celebrating the right to know. As part of the month-long annual event the Non-GMO Project distributed 10,000 tote bags and 100,000 pocket guides, and hosted more than 110,000 visitors to its websites.
9. France restores ban on GMO maize crops
Just in time to protect spring planting, last March France imposed a temporary moratorium on the cultivation of Monsanto’s MON810 (GMO corn). The ruling came after a previous ban was annulled in November 2011.
10. Kaiser Permanente promotes non-GMO choices
This fall, Kaiser Permanente’s patient newsletter featured advice and information for avoiding GMOs, including a suggestion to limit exposure to GMOs by choosing Non-GMO Project Verified foods. According to the article: “Despite what the biotech industry might say, there is little research on the long-term effects of GMOs on human health.”