Several readers have asked if IAmAGuardian.com has taken a position on California Proposition 37 which requires labeling of genetically engineered foods. Yes, below are two articles which have been posted in support of Proposition 37.
As previously identified, chemical and agricultural conglomerates opposing Prop 37 are grossly outspending supporters of the proposition (funds raised exceed $40 million at this point, still a 10 to 1 advantage). Opponents have cited very large additional costs to the food industry from the labeling, increased costs to consumers as if prices will be forced up, and the supposed inconsistency of application of the labeling requirement to various products.
All products in California require labels. There is no requirement to re-label products made before the law’s passage. There is virtually no cost to redraft future product labels which have to be produced on packaging anyway. There should be no change in pricing of products to consumers other than hypothesized price reductions to sell newly labeled genetically engineered products that consumers refuse to buy.
The logic of what is included to be labeled as genetically engineered and what is not, is a function of what farms may be incidentally contaminated by plants from neighboring farms whose crops are genetically engineered. This is because there is nothing to prevent GE crops from cross pollinating adjacent non GE crops. In addition, labeling a GE product is determined by whether it is eaten directly by a human being. Meat from animals that have been fed GE products is exempt because the animal itself has not been genetically engineered. In cases where the animal itself is genetically engineered, for example the proposed genetically modified salmon, there would be a requirement for GE labeling before human consumption.
Those of us who have read the proposed legislation and have studied genetic engineering find the arguments against this simple labeling requirement to be complete fabrications. This type of product labeling already exists in over 60 countries around the world. These vociferous and wealthy opponents of Prop 37 are only concerned about their profits and being completely unregulated when they genetically engineer their products. They want to remain completely unfettered by a simple labeling requirement that informs consumers who might care about what they feed themselves and their family.
A U.S. Domino for Genetically Engineered Foods
September 16, 2012 – San Francisco
California may be the last chance for mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods in the U.S. or the first U.S. governmental entity to require labeling. Unfortunately there has been no progress in the U.S. with a number of labeling bills defeated around the country. As the birth place of genetic engineering, the U.S. and Canada have the largest adoption of genetically modified foods in the world.
When the U.S. reversed its decades long opposition to allowing other nations to require labels on genetically engineered food (see iamaguardian.com August 2011 posting of “Speed/Slow/Stop….or Label Genetically Modified Foods”) it was clear it would cause labeling dominoes to fall around the world. We have seen movement in a number of countries including lately the European Union and most recently a committee of the Indian Parliament and separately the Turkish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock.
The reality is that when consumers get information, they read it and they act on it. This is why the opposition to California’s Proposition 37 (Genetically Engineered Foods, Mandatory Labeling Initiative Statute) has put up over $25 million to defeat the proposition. This does not compare favorably to the $2.5 million raised in support of the measure.
If you are judged by the company you keep as a measure of how you should be viewed, the roles of the two sides of the debate are clear. The proponents number many and have a long history of standing on the side of consumers and their health (see http://www.carighttoknow.org/endorsements/ ). The antagonists include the largest chemical and food companies. If you look at this list of opponents what is striking is that many producers on the list are either genetically modifying foods themselves, are the nation’s largest buyers of GE crops or produce products that are only sugar foods which contain nothing but empty calories and pander to the worst eating habits in our nation (http://www.noprop37.com/donors/ ).
Who do you believe has your best health interests at heart, Monsanto, Bayer Crop Science, Cargill, Clorox, and Dow Agro Sciences? Maybe others have more credibility with you, like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo Inc., Hershey Company, Nestle USA, H.J Heinz, Sara Lee, and the J.M. Smucker Company. These are the company’s paying the most to defeat a simple labeling requirement.
You should decide for yourself but not be swayed by the avalanche of negative ads that are about to launch in California. This is simply a labeling requirement, not anything more. When the antagonists say it is a conspiracy to have a deceptive labeling scheme or a plot to help organic businesses or will cost too much to change labels or will cause a rise in food prices or will be a windfall for trial lawyers or has loopholes for special interests, you should reject these claims. Some of us have read the legislation, are familiar with the genetic engineering of foods in the U.S. and have seen these scare tactics before. We are only talking about your right to see a label that shows you what is in the food you intend to eat and feed to your family.
Use the following links to obtain more information:
CA Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act
March 27, 2012 – San Francisco
Since the July 5, 2011 reversal of the U.S. position opposing labeling of genetically modified foods internationally (see August 5, 2011 post “Speed/Slow/Stop…or LABEL Genetically Modified Foods), pressure for mandatory labeling of GM foods in the U.S. has been building.
While there are efforts nationally to produce petitions (see www.justlabelit.org ) and to pass laws to require mandatory labeling, many are not optimistic these efforts will be successful in the near term. The situation in the State of California may be dramatically different however (see www.carighttoknow.org ).
As you probably know California has a history of leading and pioneering in forward looking health and safety issues. California also has a well developed voter initiative process in which citizens groups can qualify proposed laws for inclusion on the state election ballot once a specific number of voter signatures have been secured. In the November elections of 2012 California voters will have a unique opportunity to pass ground breaking legislation that requires mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods offered for sale in California.
Called the “California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act” the proposed legislation requires mandatory labeling when a food is:
- “any genetically engineered raw agricultural commodity”
- a “processed food that is made with or derived from any genetically engineered ingredient” or
- any “processed food that is made with or is derived from any ingredient that may be genetically engineered” shall include a conspicuous statement which says “MAY CONTAIN GENETICALLY ENGINEERED INGREDIENT(S)”
While this legislation has elements which do not go far enough, it does represent a landmark step. An example of an area that could be strengthened is its failure to call for labeling of food from any animal that has not itself been genetically engineered but has been fed or injected with genetically engineered food or any drug that has been produced though means of genetic engineering. The proposed law also excludes labeling of food solely because it includes one or more genetically engineered processing aids or enzymes.
In any case, this is a ballot initiative you should support with your contributions and votes. Quoting Beyond Animal, Ego and Time, “Successful activists take the progress that is offered and demand more.” Let us pass this law as written as a beachhead for the rest of the nation. For voters from other states, use this draft as a template for your own local initiatives.
Remember, this legislation does not change the food choices you are given in your local store. It also does not limit the genetic engineering the industry performs. It merely gives you more information about what you may consume yourself or serve to your family. It only equips you to make a more informed choice.
Use the following links to review the actual wording of the voter initiative and visit the websites of organizations driving this issue:
http://carighttoknow.org (Select “About”, then select “The Initiative”)