Washington, D.C.—A national campaign to raise awareness over the issue of genetically modified (GMO) food products has gathered a ton of steam since its launch coinciding with Non-GMO Month in October 2011. The effort, organized by the Just Label It campaign and its sponsors, is to gather signatures for a petition urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require the labeling of all genetically modified food products. The petition has reached 500,000 signatures and counting, with the surge toward the stated goal of one million signees being supported by filmmakers and other outreach efforts.

“Half a million comments to the FDA in just a few months is unprecedented. We’ve already garnered the attention of policy makers and the media in Washington. Now it’s up to FDA to take action—and we will keep pressure on them until they do,” says Just Label It spokesperson Sue McGovern. Just Label It and its sponsors, who include the Organic Trade Association, United Natural Foods, Organic Valley and Earthbound Farm, have already submitted the petition to FDA, but believe its potential impact will grow as the number of signatures grows. The ultimate victory for the movement would be national legislation mandating the labeling of any food containing elements that are genetically engineered.

“As we head into the spring, expect the case for the right to know to be made throughout all forms of media, from traditional newspapers and magazines, to TV and radio, and out into the blogosphere, through Internet outlets and especially Facebook and Twitter,” McGovern says. One effort to increase awareness of the issue involves filmmaker Robert Kenner and his video, Labels Matter. Kenner, the producer and director of the Oscar-nominated documentary Food, Inc., interviewed three individuals that believe they have a “right to know what is in their food.”

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, March 2012