A large portion of the population is becomingly increasingly aware and concerned with what they put into their bodies -- others are still fine with consuming copious amounts of fast foods. (To each his own.)
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are a big part of the conversation.
While the biotech industry asserts the products are safe to swallow, activists are concerned with the lack of long-term studies on health effects and environmental impact.
Many just want to know what is contained in their food.
GMO Free USA is now pushing a petition encouraging Florida-based grocery chain Publix to label GMOs in all of its products.
The group has addressed the petition and a letter to on Florida PIRG (a consumer activist group) Publix CEO William E. Crenshaw:
Dear Publix CEO William Crenshaw,
Consumers have a right to make healthy, responsible, and informed choices about the food we eat. Yet it's usually impossible to know whether our food contains GMOs.
GMOs aren't without risk -- some are designed for increased pesticides, which have been linked to serious health and environmental effects.
Some stores, like Whole Foods, have started labeling their GMO products. Publix should take the lead here in Florida and start labeling store brand products that contain GMOs.
I support GMO labels. Please label store-brand products that contain GMOs.
GMO Free Florida is (obviously) onboard with the cause. Organizer Trish Sheldon is working on a local rally that will be held simultaneously in 17 other cities throughout the state.
"GMO Free Florida endorses PIRG demanding that Publix labels all GE [genetically engineered or GMO] ingredients," says Sheldon. "Like Whole Foods has promised, it would be great to see Publix put pressure on its manufacturers to do the same. We need transparency, traceability, and accountability for products containing GMO."
In March, 2013, Whole Foods Market announced that all products in its US and Canadian stores must be labeled to indicate the presence of GMOs by 2018.
According to its co-CEO Walter Robb, "We are putting a stake in the ground on GMO labeling to support the consumer's right to know. The prevalence of GMOs in the U.S. paired with nonexistent mandatory labeling makes it very difficult for retailers to source non-GMO options and for consumers to choose non-GMO products. Accordingly, we are stepping up our support of certified organic agriculture, where GMOs are not allowed, and we are working together with our supplier partners to grow our non-GMO supply chain to ensure we can continue to provide these choices in the future."
Later this month, several local GMO activist groups, including GMO Free Florida, are participating in another big March Against Monsanto in Miami. Starting at 2 p.m. on May 24, marchers are meeting at the Omni/Adrienne Arsht Center Metromover Station to rally through downtown -- they will be walking past and stopping at a local through the course.
A similar petition to Publix has been circling the internet on MoveOn.org; it currently has 221 signatures, and is looking to obtain a total of 300 before moving forward.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.