It took the audience just 11 minutes—11 minutes—to give up food brands they had grown up with and to commit to healthier non-GMO food. Of course, this group had already been against genetically modified organisms as a concept—this was Greenfest after all, and in San Francisco no less.

But when I asked them to rate themselves from 1-100 on how vigilant they were at avoiding GMOs, most people placed themselves in the least-vigilant category: 1–20.

That’s typical of most US audiences. And so is what happened next…

I showed them photos of damaged organs from lab rats fed GMOs, skin rashes from farm workers picking GM cotton, and dead livestock that had grazed on cotton plants; rodent studies showing a fivefold increase in infant mortality, smaller babies, sterile babies, and severe immune responses; how genes from GM crops can transfer into DNA of bacteria inside our intestines and may continue to function; that insecticide engineered into Monsanto’s corn is found in the blood of pregnant women and unborn fetuses; how industry rigs their research to hide dangers and attacks independent scientists who find them; that FDA scientists repeatedly warned of serious harm from GMOs, but the political appointee in charge (Monsanto’s former attorney) allowed GM foods on the market without any required safety tests; that the same doctors’ organization which first identified food allergies, chemical sensitivities, and Gulf War syndrome now urges physicians to prescribe non-GMO diets to everyone.

After that, I asked the audience to rate how vigilant they would be next week to avoid GMOs.

“How many will be low vigilance: 1-20?” No hands.

“20-40?” Still no hands

“40-60?” A couple of hands.
The most popular category shifted from lowest vigilance in the first vote, to the highest (80-100) in the second vote—just 11 minutes later.
I then reminded the audience of the strategy for eliminating GMOs that we had discussed at the beginning: if brand managers from major food companies see any drop in US market share attributable to anti-GMO sentiment, it would be the food industry equivalent of a “Sell Signal.” GMOs would be discarded as a market liability. Remember, these same companies removed GMOs from their European brands when resistance spread there. To hit that sell signal in the US, we think the tipping point requires just 5% of US consumers avoiding GMOs.

At the start, I’d asked the audience, “How are we going to get 15 million Americans to change their diet?” After my 11 minute presentation, it was clear: “Now we know. We just tell them the truth.”

The audience then rated how active they planned to be in educating people on GMOs. At the start of the presentation, most rated themselves in the lowest category. After 11 minutes, nearly everyone was in the highest.

“So you see,” I said. “The same information that changes peoples’ diets also makes the campaign go viral.”

Now it’s just a numbers game. Once we disseminate that information to enough people, it’s the endgame for genetically modified food.

The Institute for Responsible Technology ( has packaged this behavior-changing message into a full range of materials and organized local and national action groups, and even trained 750 people to give public presentations. In total, they reached 5-10 million people each month.

Because Americans are awakening to this issue, it’s become easier to get the word out and change lives. Now is the time to throw your support to a non-GMO future. Although I wouldn’t say we’re in the home stretch yet, we’re banking the turn and hear the crowd cheering. It’s time to turn on the juice.

International bestselling author and filmmaker Jeffrey M. Smith is the Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology and author of Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette.

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