Yes on Prop 37 – Label Genetically Modified Food

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.

Dr. Bronner's semi with

Dr. Bronner’s semi with Yes on 37 wrap!

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 crops 1, weeds are adapting to resist such herbicides 2, 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 2012 3, 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 MapLight 4, 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 Law 5.] 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 University 5, then from the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 6, and finally even the Food and Drug Administration itself 7.

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.


9 thoughts on “Yes on Prop 37 – Label Genetically Modified Food

  1. We should have to know what is in our food. Nowadays, we are not well informed about what is getting into our bodies, what we are consuming. I do agree that some people still consume even if they are aware that they are eating crappy food. However, someone like myself, I LIKE to know what I am eating. At the end this is my body, my health, my life.

  2. Hi Jodi – We have a lot of hippies and scientists here at Dr. Bronner’s, too. Like your husband said, 37 is about whether or not consumers should know. It does not address the existence or safety of GE foods, which is something that would have to be looked at on a case by case basis. This is because foods are genetically altered for a variety of reasons (although, as I’ve said most of it is either to produce or withstand pesticides). With measures such as Prop 37, the genetic modification that is happening would be under greater public scrutiny and so would probably have to achieve beneficial goals, such as increased nutrient levels and such.

    An analogy comes to mind with this. Consider what the American government would be like if we didn’t have the freedom of the press to reveal and publicize what they were doing. As problematic as things might be politically now, think what would happen if there were less accountability from the public because the public had no knowledge of governmental activities. That is what is happening now with America’s food supply. The workings of the majority of food producers are so shrouded in mystery, especially when it comes to GMO’s, that the eating public has no idea what is going on, and these companies have no reason to be governed by any goal other than their financial profits. There is no reason to pursue better nutrition, better environmental practices, better human health considerations of any kind.

    Anyhow, there’s a little more food for thought. I’d love to hear yours and your husband’s continued thoughts on this as well.

    All the best,

  3. Thanks for replying, Lisa. I really keep going back and forth on this issue, I feel decided, and then I totally don’t. I’ve been trying to find information that supports the claim that meat is exempt. It’s hard to know who to believe…will it be as simple as giving us more information about our food, or will there be ridiculous exemptions and loopholes that will drive up costs and complicate things? I just have to say that right now I’m leaning towards yes after a conversation with my husband. We were talking about the salmon thing and he says “what’s wrong with it? It’s what consumers want, and it helps with over fishing” and I said “But (like you said) it’s like a lie about what the food is.” and then he said “okay yes, they should be able to know that’s what it is.” Bingo! Though he still says no. He’s a scientist, but I’m more of a hippie.

  4. Hi Jodi – I am so glad you voiced your question because I know there are many more out there who are wondering the same thing. It sounds like you and me are on the same wavelength regarding being aware of GMO’s and where they are found. However, many people have no idea how widespread genetic modification is, why it is done, and why they should care. Without getting too tongue-tied, I’d say people don’t know that they don’t know. Most are appalled to hear about insecticides within produce, increased use and potency of herbicides, and particularly about the prospects of meats crossed with other species (specifically the salmon recently approved for sale with the DNA of an eel). This information just isn’t out there. Part of Prop 37 is shedding light on information many people very much do want to know, but didn’t know existed.

    As aware as I think I am of the whereabouts of GE foods, if I were in a store right now and wanting to buy salmon, I would not be able to tell if the salmon were true salmon or the new “eel” salmon (developed to grow twice as fast as normal salmon with the DNA of an eel). My only safety would be to avoid buying salmon altogether, and that would really be depriving my family of a great source of nutrients as well as a favorite food.

    So this issue is really at a crossroads. Heretofore, GE foods have been in processed, pre-packaged foods, which have hit or miss nutritional value anyways. But now we’re on the brink, and even teetering over the edge, of giving up the good stuff – the fresh produce, the fresh meats, the stuff that should be “close to nature”, untouched, and most of all unprocessed. If the genetic code of the produce has been manufactured in a lab, isn’t that processing?

    Regarding the fiscal impact, the analysis that was published in our Voter’s Guide indicated it would be a few hundred thousand to maybe a million annually. Honestly, that is a miniscule crumb of an amount in the California budget. This measure does not create bearacracy or new departments or even a new inspection process. Labels are already monitored. Companies are already used to providing information. The 18 months that the measure allows for instituion is much longer than the frequency with which companies change their labels anyways. It is even plenty of time to allow for reformulation if a brand does not want the label.

    It definitely comes down to the question of, do labels matter? Do people really learn new things from reading labels? Do people make shopping and eating choices from reading labels? I think that they do. I am a mom of 3 little ones, and especially for busy moms who don’t have time to do the crazy amount of detective work required to find out which brand is owned by which company and what their take is on the GE issue – GE info is important and relevant, and needs to be included with basic ingredient and nutrient info.

    This is something incredibly basic that we teach our children: withholding part of the truth is the same thing as lying. Whether or not food is genetically engineered is part of the truth.

    I hope I have helped clarify the issues. Please let me know your thoughts and any other questions you may have.

    All the best,

  5. my concern is whether or not this is the most effective way to take care of the problem. Are people who eat the food now going to care even if it is labeled? Will it really make a difference? There is so much crap at the market, and so many people know it, yet they buy it anyway. Those of us who have more knowledge about the food industry already know to avoid much of those things. I’m afraid it is going to cost $$$ to regulate all of the labeling, and we all know California cannot handle throwing anymore money down the drain. Can we afford it, just to HOPE that it will make a difference and that people will start eating differently?

  6. I send my wholehearted supported to all those who are actively working to have Prop 37 passed in California. From

  7. The resistance to providing labeling makes me wonder why the information is so secretive. In my opinion it is about money. If we know what foods are involved we may choose not to eat them…then of course the suppliers would lose sales…money. Too bad for them. Maybe they should chose to alter their practices to more natural ones instead of altering the foods they supply.

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