Just four years ago when I first attended the Natural Products Expo West (March 9-11 in Los Angles), aisles were filled with bottled water enhanced with electrolytes, vitamins and flavors, while recycling plastic and sustainable packaging were the big concern.
For 2012, the overriding issue during the four-day tradeshow was labeling GMO products.
Horizon and Stonyfield hosted a booth for the national Just Label It campaign and Nature's Path supported the California Right to Know initiative. The extensive list of companies supporting the efforts include Amy’s Kitchen, Eden, Honest Tea, Clif Bar and others, listed on the campaign's websites.
At a gathering with Nature’s Path, we munched on its new organic Love Crunch granola (with its Bite4Bite donation of bags to food banks for every bag bought), ancient grains waffles and crunchy breakfast bars.
Founder Arran Stephens explained that California's campaign has until April 24 to get get 850,000 signatures to get on the ballot in 2012. "If it happens here, word will spread," said Stephens, adding there's a growing coalition who are helping to fund the effort against agricultural biotechnology company Monsanto's multi-million dollar opposition. Eighteen other states are also mounting campaigns.
Then documentary director Jeffrey Seifert played an excerpt from an upcoming film about GMOs (introduced as "Secret of the Seeds"), inspired by Haitian farmers who destroyed Monsanto's donation of 475 tons of genetically modified vegetable seeds after the 2010 earthquake. The film project is produced by Joshua Kunau and Elizabeth Kucinich (wife of Dennis Kucinich).
With 87% of the population supposedly behind labeling GMO products, it seems like a no-brainer. But as the film footage revealed, lots of people don't even know what GMO means.
Though 80% of our packaged food contains GMOs, thankfully that's not the case at Expo West. Labels proudly touted fair-trade, gluten-free, vegan, no trans fats, and non-GMO.
Monsanto's fight against GMO labeling is powerful. So sign the petitions and support organic companies behind the efforts.