According to Non-GMO Foods: U.S. Market Perspective, a recent report by Packaged Facts, products that do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will account for 30% of U.S. food and beverage sales by 2017.
Packaged Facts defines non-GMO produce as organic foods; foods actively marketed as non–GMO; some “natural” foods (it notes that many foods labelled as “natural” contain GMOs); and foods that are not actively marketed as organic, “natural,” or non–GMO, but which are included under the definition because they do not contain ingredients from GM crops, or meat, eggs, or milk from animals who have been fed GM crops.
The report found that Hispanic and African-American consumers are more concerned about the presence of GMOs in their food than those in other racial groups, while consumers under 45 are more likely to purchase non-GMO foods than those aged over 45. Urbanites are more likely to purchase non–GMO products than suburban dwellers, who are in turn more likely to purchase them than those living in rural communities. The consumers most concerned about GMOs in their food are mothers in their mid-30s who live in urban middle-class households.
Sixty–one countries around the world, including China, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the member states of the European Union, have enacted laws requiring the mandatory labeling of foods containing GMOs. The U.S. currently has no such laws in place, but the Packaged Foods report predicts that if they are introduced, non-GMO products could come to account for as high as 40% of national food and beverage sales by 2017.
This prediction bears witness to the likely future impact of the non–GMO movement which has largely been driven by the work of advocacy groups such as the Non–GMO Project and the Center for Food Safety.
While recent efforts to introduce a mandatory labelling system for GM produce in the U.S. have met with failure, changes are afoot. In March 2013, Whole Foods Market declared that they would be the first national grocery chain to aim towards total GMO transparency, and are hoping to achieve this goal by 2018. In April, legislators in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate introduced a new bill with the stated aim of establishing a “consistent and enforceable standard for labeling of foods produced using genetic engineering.”
Andrew Kimbrell, the executive director of the Center for Food Safety, states that “we all have the basic human right to know what we put in our bodies and where it came from. If food manufacturers and elected officials don’t want to put the facts of food ingredients on product labels, you can bet something is very wrong.”