2013 was a year of great progress for the non-GMO movement. Landmark efforts for mandatory labeling at home and abroad helped catapult the GMO issue into the mainstream, and consumer demand for non-GMO choices was off the charts. So much in fact, it was difficult to keep this list to just 10 items.
Is there still work to be done? Absolutely! However, as we move into 2014 it is heartening to see the wins achieved by all of the millions of people who are standing up for their right to know.
Here are our top 10 non-GMO wins from 2013:
Whole Food commits to complete GMO transparency in stores by 2018
At the Natural Products Expo in March, Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb announced that in response to shoppers’ concerns about the unlabeled presence of GMOs, Whole Foods was making a commitment to complete GMO transparency in its stores by 2018. “We’re responding to our customers, who have consistently asked us for GMO labeling and we are doing so by focusing on where we have control: in our own stores,” said Robb.
March Against Monsanto unites people in 52 countries and 436 cities
On May 25, concerned citizens around the world took to the streets to voice their outrage at the impacts that large biotech companies are having on our food system. What started as a Facebook rallying cry became one of the largest protests ever in support of non-genetically engineered foods.
Mandatory labeling for GE salmon moves forward
In its first recorded vote on the labeling of genetically engineered foods, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed a bipartisan amendment 15-14 in June that would require the labeling of genetically engineered salmon. This vote comes on the heels of more than 2,000 retailers across the United States committing to not selling GM salmon.
Non-GMO Project Verified label receives approval for meat, liquid egg products
In June, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), a branch of the USDA that regulates meat and liquid egg products, approved the use of the Non-GMO Project Verified label on the products they oversee. This was a celebrated step forward for companies that currently offer Non-GMO Project Verified meat or liquid eggs and for shoppers looking to make informed purchasing decisions. Since then, more than 100 livestock operations have inquired about verifying their meat or eggs.
The fourth annual Non-GMO Month has record participation
During October, more than 1,850 natural food retailers took part in Non-GMO Month by educating their communities about the GMO issue and celebrating the right to know. This month-long event helped to create incredible awareness about the Non-GMO Project’s mission to build and preserve a non-GMO food supply. There were more than 12 million social media impressions, 350,000 visits to the Non-GMO Project’s website, and more than 1,400 products verified!
Mexican judge rules that GMOs are an imminent threat and orders all genetically engineered corn planting to stop
In an unprecedented move to help protect Mexico’s wealth of native corn varieties, Judge Jaime Eduardo Verdugo J. of the Twelfth Federal District Court for Civil Matters of Mexico City ordered Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture and SEMARNAT (Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales), equivalent to the U.S. EPA, to immediately “suspend all activities involving the planting of transgenic corn in the country and end the granting of permission for experimental and pilot commercial plantings.”
Non-GMO product sales surpass $5 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. 2013 was a banner year, with annual sales of Non-GMO Project Verified products topping $5 billion at the end of the third quarter, the The Non-GMO Cookbook hitting bookstore shelves in October, and achieving the verification of more than 14,000 products.
Hundreds of thousands voters in Washington state mobilize around I-522
In November, Washington state voted on whether to pass Initiative 522, which if passed would have required that foods containing genetically engineered ingredients be labeled. While I-522 did not win at the polls, 49% voted “yes” and it drove incredible awareness of the critical issue of unlabeled GMOs in the food supply and set the stage for a future victory in 2016.
Connecticut becomes the first state to approve a GMO labeling law
The Right to Know Movement celebrated on December 13 when Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy ceremoniously signed the first GMO labeling law in the United States. The bill includes several trigger clauses, one of which is that at least four other states, including one sharing a border with Connecticut, must pass similar legislation. Encouragingly, just nine days after the bill was passed in June, Maine passed its own GMO labeling legislation, making it the second state with a GMO labeling law in place.
Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi signs GMO bill into law
Hawaiians have been working tirelessly to help protect their land from the devastating impacts of GMO production, including open-air trials and pesticide usage. In Mayor Kenoi’s words, “This ordinance expresses the desires and demands of our community for a safe, sustainable agricultural sector that can help feed our people while keeping our precious island productive and healthy.”
Thank you to all of the people who helped make these successes possible!
Thank you to all who helped contribute to these amazing successes!