You may not live in California or even in the United States. However, the decision that is facing California voters of whether to label genetically modified foods will reverberate across the country. If you are elsewhere in the world, it is likely who are in one of the 61 countries that already have labeling in place. My hope is that regardless of where you are, you will reach out to people who can vote in this election and encourage them to vote Yes on Proposition 37.
It’s dinner time. Do you know what you’re eating? Do you know what your children are eating? The California Right to Know campaign wants to make sure you do. Proposition 37 requires that food that has been genetically engineered be labeled because we have the right to know what is in our food.
Genetically engineered (GE) foods, otherwise known as genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), contain within their DNA genes from another species of animal, plant, virus or bacteria. Without GE labeling, current nutritional labels do not tell consumers if the salmon they’re purchasing has been spliced with an eel or if the corn they’re consuming contains an internal insecticide, both of which are available on the market.
Although genetic modification was supposed to make food more nutritious and drought tolerant, nearly all of it has been used to create herbicide-resistant crops, such as Monsanto’s “Round Up Ready” corn, or internal insecticides. The result is that millions more pounds of herbicide are being used on crops1, weeds are adapting to resist such herbicides2, and farmers must use even more potent herbicides than before such as 2,4-D, an active ingredient in Agent Orange. The environmental and human health impact of this cycle of ever-increasing herbicide potency is hard to exaggerate.
The opposition’s question is: “If GE foods are safe, why label them?” My question is: “If GE foods are safe, why not label them?” The argument that labeling would create panic is a slight to the intelligence of Californians. Instead of spending boatloads buying the airwaves with misleading advertising, why not educate the public on the benefits of this technology? The reason is that these benefits are hard to identify.
The little good research that does exist (and none is on humans) ranges from disturbing to downright terrifying. The peer-reviewed publication Food and Chemical Toxicology , August 20123, published the first ever long term, independent study. Rats fed food containing Round Up Ready corn experienced massive tumors, organ damage, and premature death. “It’s safe. Trust me,” doesn’t mean much coming from the same companies who told us DDT and Agent Orange are safe. Until further independent studies occur, subjecting uninformed people to untested technology is irresponsible and immoral.
There is a long-term human study underway on the American public. Our children may carry signs reading, “I am not a lab rat” or “I am not a science experiment.” But the truth is, they are lab rats and they are science experiments. The only way to stop that reality is to label genetically modified foods.
According to the MapLight4, not a single individual has donated money to oppose Prop 37. Their listed donors are only companies and organizations who profit from GE technology and do not want their methods revealed to their consumers and do not want to be held to any standard of accountability. The California Right to Know, Yes on 37, website shows thousands of individuals who have donated small amounts in support. This adds up to $35 million for the opposition and $7 million for the support, but people-wise, it adds up to zero for the opposition and millions who support Prop 37.
If Prop 37 does not pass, it will be because the airwaves have been bought and blanketed with the following distortions and fabrications, which can be easily disproved.
Myths and Facts Regarding Prop 37
Myth: Prop 37 is too complicated.
Reality: It’s very simple: Label GE food. Don’t call GE food “natural”.
Myth: Prop 37 has too many exemptions.
Reality: The exemptions are obvious and logical. Organic food, certified to be non-GMO; Restaurant food and alcohol, neither of which has any nutritional labeling (a worthwhile, but wholly different conversation); Food that does not come from GE animals – this prop labels food that does come from GE animals.
Myth: Prop 37 was written by a trial lawyer to benefit trial lawyers.
Reality: Prop 37 was born from an amazing cross-section of society, first begun by Pamm Larry, a stay at home grandma who decided something needed to be done about GMO labeling. A legal analysis of Prop 37 by James C. Cooper, J.D., Ph.D. from George Mason University School of Law5 ascertains that this proposition gives businesses “greater legal certainty” by stating precise thresholds for GE content, giving an absolute defense against lawsuits via sworn affidavits, and allowing 30 days to correct an offense. There is no incentive for trial lawyers to bring frivolous lawsuits.
Myth: Prop 37 would raise the cost of food.
Reality: 61 other countries in Europe and Asia have already labeled GE foods, and not one has seen a price increase related to such labeling.
Myth: Prop 37 would burden the government.
Reality: The legislative analysis of the financial effects of Prop 37 concluded that the administrative costs would be minimal and the court costs are “not likely to be significant”.
The No on 37 campaign has repeatedly tried to legitimatize itself by falsifying endorsements, first from Stanford University6, then from the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics7, and finally even the Food and Drug Administration itself8.
In principle, biotechnology has potential, but as it has been applied to genetically engineered food, it has been a disaster. And the more our heads are buried in the sand, the more devastating the personal impact of this national experiment will be.
This proposition will never pass unless individuals spread the facts via every means of communication available. Please don’t underestimate your word of mouth, your Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, Letters to the Editor of your local papers. Grassroots effort is what brought this measure to the ballot. Let’s see it through to the end.
Please make transparency in our food supply happen by voting Yes on Proposition 37. We have the right to know what is in our food.
Keep up to date with Proposition 37 via the Right to Know updates.
- 1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/02/genetically-modified-crops-pesticides_n_1931020.html ↩
- 2. http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/05/superweeds-a-long-predicted-problem-for-gm-crops-has-arrived/257187/ ↩
- 3. http://research.sustainablefoodtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Final-Paper.pdf ↩
- 4. http://votersedge.org/california/ballot-measures/2012/november/prop-37/funding ↩
- 5. http://www.anh-usa.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Prop65-and-GMO-Label-Initiative.pdf ↩
- 6. http://www.carighttoknow.org/_ddt_doctor ↩
- 7. http://www.carighttoknow.org/no_on_37_misled_california_voters ↩
- 8. http://www.carighttoknow.org/deptofjustice ↩