Just Say No to GMOs:
Non-GMO Month, The Right2Know
March and Working Together to
Protect Our Food Supply
An Interview with Megan Westgate, Executive Director of the Non-GMO Project
In the past few years, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have gone from an acronym that only serious natural foodists understood to the center of debates in coffeehouses and blogs throughout the country, developing more and more awareness. While many activists
have helped spread the word, one of the key leaders who helped bring
the GMO issue to the forefront is Megan Westgate,
executive director of the Non-GMO Project, a non-
profit that provides non-GMO verification and
Westgate’s non-GMO mission began humbly in 2004 while working as the outreach coordinator at a small independent food co-op in
Tucson, Arizona. Part of her job was maintaining a labeling program
in which each product was shelf-tagged to identify the risk of containing GMOs. By 2006, she had heard about a new push to develop an
industry-wide standard for non-GMO and began volunteering to help
bring the Non-GMO Project to life.
Soon, Westgate’s GMO labeling project went from one store to
thousands of products in thousands of stores across the nation. Last
year, the organization officially declared October Non-GMO Month,
and this year, Westgate is helping organize the first Right2Know
March, an epic 16-day journey from New York to Washington, D.C.
Recently, Westgate took some time to chat with Organic Processing
OP: What has been driving the recent growing awareness of GMOs?
about upcoming events, as well as touch on some of the other top
questions the organic industry has about GMOs.
Westgate: I think people have just started to wake up to what’s going on. Many were outraged
with USDA’s decisions last winter on GM sugar beets and alfalfa, and it led to a major surge in
commentary in the blogosphere and social media. With each post, awareness has grown until all