of a sudden, major media outlets are paying attention. Last year, Dr. Oz dedicated a show to the issue, and there was coverage in publications like The New
York Times, the Chicago Tribune and the L.A. Times. MSNBC and CNBC both recently did GMO polls on their websites, and the non-GMO positions got way
more support than the pro-GMO positions. MSNBC had around 45,000 people
weigh in, and 96 percent said that they thought GMOs should be labeled. We
are working with O Magazine right now on a story for November, and I think
awareness is just going to keep increasing.
All the litigation and outreach from the Center for Food Safety (CFS) has really raised awareness as well. If CFS wasn’t out there, the government would just
be quietly getting away with breaking their own laws left and right, and the
GMO situation would be even worse than it is. Besides the policy impact, CFS
really helps make the GMO issue media worthy; every time there’s a decision
on one of their cases, it’s news.
The march is important because although awareness is on the rise, there
are still many Americans who have no
idea about GMOs, or maybe they’ve
heard of them, but they don’t realize
how experimental they are. They don’t
know that GMOs are in many of our
foods, even though they’re illegal or
restricted in other developed countries. When you tell them that in the
EU, for example, any product containing more than 0.9 percent GMO has
to be labeled, it really gets people’s attention. They realize that just because
“Our focus with the Right2Know March is getting as many people as possible to the two rallies in
New York (Oct. 1st) and D.C. (Oct. 16th). These events will
get the most media attention, so if a lot of people can
Also, with Non-GMO Project Verified products in mainstream outlets like
Walmart and Costco, people who have never heard of non-GMO are seeing it
on labels and asking questions. All the hundreds of brands that are part of the
Non-GMO Project are also sharing the non-GMO message on their websites
and advertising, and it all grows exponentially.
So many people care so passionately about this issue. By the time this story
goes out, we’ll probably have at least 45,000 fans on our Facebook page, and almost all of them come back to our page to see what news we’ve posted and to
make comments. Self-sufficiency, like backyard gardens and chicken coops, is
such a huge trend, and I think people get that GMOs are the opposite of self-sufficient. GMOs are probably the biggest threat to food security that exists.
make it to at least one of these, then we will create a lot of
OP: What was the inspiration for the Right2Know March and how has it evolved?
Westgate: Joseph Wilhelm, the director of Rapunzel Naturkost in Germany organized and led two similar marches in Europe, in 2007 and 2009. His example
really inspired a few leaders in the organic and natural products industry here,
and they decided to organize something similar. We had the first meetings in
March at Expo West, and then a small group of us formed a steering committee
and started talking weekly. Today, we have a great group of affiliate organizations and sponsors, all listed on the march website, www.right2knowmarch.org.
Dr. Bronner’s, Rapunzel, Nature’s Path, Organic Valley, Stonyfield, UNFI,
Kamut and Nutiva all donated early on to help get this off the ground. IFOAM,
the Non-GMO Project, The Sustainable Living Roadshow, The Organic Center
and the Organic Trade Association are also helping with outreach.
the government approved it doesn’t
guarantee that it’s safe for them, their
families or the environment.
The most important message to get
out right now is that everyone has a
right to know what’s in their food and
to avoid GMOs if they want to. The
“right to know” concept even registers
with people who don’t eat organic or
think of themselves as environmentalists. It’s a core American value.
The concept of this march is to create something really media-worthy so
we can spread the word. Also, for the
growing numbers of people who are
concerned and want to take action,
the march offers a really direct, coordinated platform. The Right2Know message supports many other efforts,
including the FDA petition on labeling, the California ballot initiative and,
of course, awareness about organic
and Non-GMO Project Verified options. We’re creating a rallying point