Why You Should Support California’s Proposition 37
California’s Office of the Secretary of State announced on Monday, July 9, 2012, that the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, also known as the GMO labeling initiative, will appear on voter ballots as Proposition 37 for the November 6 elections.
If passed, Prop. 37 would make California the first state in the U.S. to require companies to list GMOs (genetically modified organisms) on their food labels — these are foods and food products given specific changes to their DNA through genetic engineering (GE) techniques.
This isn’t an issue for Californians only. This is an issue that will affect everyone, since the passage of this bill in California would likely prompt several other states to follow suit. If you are concerned about what goes in to your food and your and your childrens’ health, then you need to get involved.
GMO/GE labeling is already law in nearly 50 countries, including China, Japan and throughout Europe. Alaska requires labeling of GE fish and shellfish, making it the only U.S. state with any type of GE labeling law.
Why do you suppose the U.S. is so far behind in labeling? Polls across the US show that more than 90% of the public supports labeling of genetically modified foods (GMOs). With near unanimous support, you’d think this would be a done deal, right?
No so. After all, Americans (and more specifically, Californians) are going up against Big Food and Big Ag who desperately want Prop 37 to fail.
Soon you will start to see the airwaves filled with ads and false claims about why we shouldn’t label our food. Here are a few tactics to expect (taken directly from the CA “Right to Know” website):
- Cost inventions: Allegations that labeling genetically engineered food would raise the cost of groceries by “hundreds of dollars” a year are false. There is absolutely no evidence to back up these claims. If the California Right to Know initiative becomes law, there will be no increased cost to consumers. The initiative simply requires adding a little bit of ink to existing labels. Companies have 18 months to comply with the new labeling law, and they typically change their labels within this time period anyway.
- Language lies: Claiming that “the language is confusing” is a standard approach of opponents. In this case, the opposition is working hard to convince people that the Right to Know initiative will prevent non-GMO foods, such as canned olives, from being marketed as “natural.” This is false. The initiative applies only to genetically engineered foods. The California Attorney General’s office has already rejected the opposition’s claims that the initiative could be applied to non-GMO foods. The AG’s summary of the ballot initiative clearly states that the initiative applies to genetically engineered foods, not other foods.
- Lawsuit boogeymen: Whipping up fears about trial lawyers is a key strategy of the opposition. Their website claims the initiative will authorize “bounty hunter lawsuits.” This claim is false and makes no sense. The California “Right to Know” Initiative does not allow bounty hunter fees, so there is no economic incentive for lawyers to sue. Furthermore, the labeling law is easy to comply with – it merely requires labeling food that contains genetically engineered ingredients. There is no reason to believe companies will violate the law. Just as they accurately label their food for calories and fat content, companies are likely to disclose genetically engineered ingredients.
- Americans can’t handle it? The opposition website (noprop37.com) opens to a photo of a confused looking elderly gentleman staring at a grocery store shelf. The implication is that American consumers won’t be able to understand labels that include information about genetically engineered ingredients. This is insulting. The truth is that the overwhelming majority of Americans want to know if their food is genetically engineered. Several polls indicate that 9 out of 10 voters want mandatory labeling of GMOs. A recent poll of 500 California adults by San Francisco television station KCBS found that 91% backed labeling.
Why Should You Care about GMOs? Here’s why…
The primary reason companies genetically engineer plants is to make them tolerant to their brand of herbicide. The four major GM plants, soy, corn, canola, and cotton, are designed to survive an otherwise deadly dose of weed killer. These crops have much higher residues of toxic herbicides. About 68% of GM crops are herbicide tolerant. The second GM trait is a built-in pesticide. A gene from the soil bacterium called Bt (for Bacillus thuringiensis) is inserted into corn and cotton DNA, where it secretes the insect-killing Bt -toxin in every cell. About 19% of GM crops produce their own pesticide. Another 13% produce a pesticide and are herbicide tolerant. (source: Institute for Responsible Technology).
In case you didn’t quite follow that, GMO foods are chalk full of nasty chemicals. Chemicals that go into every cell of your body when you consume them.
Whether you’re “into health” or not, you eat every day. Approximately 75% of the processed foods on store shelves contain GE ingredients. GMO foods have never been proven safe for human consumption. Nearly every independent animal feeding safety study on GE foods (not funded by the biotechnology industry) demonstrates adverse or unexplained health effects.
Health risks associated with GMOs
There are many documented health risks associated with GE foods. According to independent scientists, human health effects of consuming GE foods can include toxic and allergic reactions, antibiotic resistance, immune suppression, infertility, accelerated aging, birth defects, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, protein formation, changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system, and other serious illnesses.
Scary stuff! And it doesn’t end there. The environmental impacts of GMO crops are massive! The main concerns are cross contamination, weed and pest resistance, damage to beneficial insects (bees, ladybugs, worms, and butterflies) and organisms and exposure to chemicals like Roundup.
If Proposition 37 passes in California, it is highly likely that other states will follow suit. California paves the way for a lot of nationwide legislature. If you care about your health, your children’s health, and the health of future generations, you will want to see this law passed so it can spread throughout the nation. It is time that we unite against Big Food and Big Ag who are only out to make millions. Our health is truly none of their concern.
Would you like to learn more about GMOs so you can better understand why we want to force our government to make GMO labeling mandatory in EVERY state?
Check out these links:
http://www.opposingviews.com/i/genetically-modified-foods-pose-huge-health-risk (more in depth explanations on the biggest health risks posed by GMO foods)
http://www.naturalnews.com/035734_GMOs_foods_dangers.html (lists the top 10 GMO foods to avoid and why)
http://www.labelgmos.org/resources (offers a HUGE list of links to other sites, movies, books, and scientific research where you can become better educated about GMOs)
And to make your life easier, here is a link to the non-GMO food shopping guide.
I urge you to vote YES on Proposition 37 and please, help spread awareness by sharing this post!