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On the Road with the Non-GMO March

On the Road with the Non-GMO March

With the goal in site, the 30 or so daily marchers who’ve populated the Right 2 Know March are closing in on Jessup, Md., on their way to Washington, where they’ll help lead a rally calling for President Obama and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to mandate the labeling of non-GMO foods.

nongmo_banner.jpgThe march departed Brooklyn, N.Y., on Oct. 1st, and the caravan has been averaging about 22 miles a day; so far, 273 miles have already been logged on the way to Sunday’s closing rally. The giant banner in photo at left got a test run yesterday and will re-appear at the gathering.

The marchers might be small in number, but represent a diverse collection of supporters. There are people from Germany and italy, as well as the West Coast of the United States. George Siemon, CEO of Organic Valley Family of Farms and David Bronner of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap have made the journey, along with a group of musicians calling themselves the Human Revolution, representatives of companies such as Nature’s Path and Silk/White Wave… and plain ol’ committed consumers.

nongmo_marchers.jpgAs they got back on the road this morning, I was able to chat with Adam Eidinger, a wellness activist who helped organized the march, and works with Dr. Bronner’s on policy and media issues.

WH: Where are you right now?

Eidinger: As I speak to you I’m walking down the path at Patapsco State Park just south of Baltimore and we’re on our way to Jessup, where we’ll hold an event at MOM’s Organic Market. We’re doing 21 miles today. We’ve had one 30-mile day. We’re a hearty group.

WH: What’s been the reception at the various stops? Are people aware of GMOs?

Eidinger: We’ve had hundreds of people show up at the events we’ve organized. Yesterday at the Maryland College for the Arts, we had a few hundred people turn out, mostly students, who were very into what we are doing.

WH: Are you afraid the march is being overshadowed by the Occupy Wall Street protesters camping out in New York and elsewhere?

Eidinger: GMOs are closely related to Wall Street. They’re part of a Wall Street business model to own seeds, or to own patents on them. People are making their own connections.

WH: What are you planning today when you get to Jessup and MOM’s?

Eidinger: We have Sustainable Living Roadshow with us, which is like a traveling carnival, and they set up the GMO Fresk Show, where people can play different games, throw bean bags at various things, put your head through a photo of a giant broccoli monster and have your photo taken, that kind of thing.

WH: I imagine getting the message out to shoppers who are at MOM’s must be easier than talking to someone you encounter on the street.

Eidinger: At these natural food stores, like MOM’s, like, 90% of the people walking in know what we’re talking about already. When we walk through neighborhoods, especially poor neighborhoods, we find a lot of people who don’t know what a GMO is, and we stop and spend time telling them what they are.

WH: What kind of impact do you hope the Washington rally will have?

Eidinger: [President] Obama has kept promises to other backers, especially the Wall Street backers. He bailed them out and kept them in business! The organic industry doesn’t need a bailout. We just need a fair, level playing field to compete with GMOs.