SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Last week Californians voted down a ballot initiative to require labeling of genetically modified foods, but the issue is far from dead say supporters who’ve vowed to push for mandatory disclosure in other states.
“It was a narrow loss for Prop 37, but a huge win for the movement for transparency and fairness in our food system,” said Stacy Malkan, media director for the Yes on Prop 37 – California Right to Know Campaign, of which Whole Foods Market, Nature’s Path and Chipotle are supporters.
Next steps include gathering enough support to get a similar initiative on the 2013 ballot in Washington state. “We’re approaching the number of signatures needed to get a California-style ballot in front of voters next November,” said Ronnie Cummins, founder and director of the Organic Consumers Association.
Other movements are cropping up elsewhere in the country, noted Megan Westgate, executive director of the Non-GMO Project, which facilitates a voluntary standard to verify non-GMO status. More retailers and manufacturers are also considering labeling GM-free foods as such. In the weeks leading up to the election, the non-profit had 189 new enrollment inquiries – nearly twice as many as it’s ever had in a 30-day period.
“When companies were asked what motivated them to approach us, they cited consumer demand, not Prop 37,” said Westgate. “Prop 37 is obviously closely linked to that growing consumer demand – it’s elevated the GMO conversation into the national spotlight to the point where exponentially more shoppers are asking about GMOs and looking for ways to avoid them.”