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The David Vs. Goliath Battle of GMO Labeling

The David Vs. Goliath Battle of GMO Labeling

Genetically engineered food has never been proven safe and a growing body of evidence links these foreign foods to allergies and other significant health risks.

NOTE: This is a guest post from  Stacy Malkan, media director for the Yes on 37  California Right to Know Campaign.

This fall, Californians will vote on a question that affects all of us – do we have the right to know what’s in our food?  A huge majority of people across the political spectrum are saying yes, we do; and they want to know specifically if their food has been genetically engineered in a lab.

“In a country seemingly dominated by partisan polarization on everything from the cause of hurricanes to the state of the economy, it’s hard to find issues, outside of motherhood and apple pie, that can muster over 90 percent support,” wrote respected national pollster Mark Mellman in The Hill.

In a recent survey, he found one. “Voters express almost unanimous support for mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods,” Mellman wrote.

Several other polls have shown similar results: 89-93% support for labeling.  But will the overwhelming support translate to votes this fall for Proposition 37?

The measure – which would simply require labels to include information about whether food has been genetically engineered, which means its DNA has been manipulated by genes from other plants, animals, viruses, or bacteria – is likely to be the biggest David vs. Goliath battle on the California ballot this fall.

“Proposition 37 promises to set up a big-money battle pitting natural food businesses and activists against multinational companies including PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and Kellogg,” reported Marc Lifsher in the Los Angeles Times.

“Backers and opponents have already raised nearly $4 million combined for campaigns to sway voters, an amount that’s likely to swell into the tens of millions of dollars as the November election approaches.”

On the opposing side are some of the largest anti-union, pro-pesticide agrichemical interests in the world, as Zack Kaldveer wrote in California Progress Report.

These include Monsanto, the chemical companies and the largest food manufacturers – the same food companies that already label genetically engineered food in 49 other countries including all of Europe, Japan, China, India and Russia.

Americans deserve to know what’s in the food we eat, too. But can the public interest, and the overwhelming majority support, stand up to the country’s richest corporations?

While it’s a safe bet that proponents of Proposition 37 will be outspent in the ad war, the Yes on 37 Right to Know campaign has a war chest of a different kind: people power.

In one of the most inspiring political stories of the year, thousands of volunteers mobilized across California to help the labeling measure collect almost a million signatures in just 10 weeks, nearly twice the number needed to qualify for the ballot. Many of them were mothers and grandmothers who are not typically out on the streets petitioning for political issues – but they want to know what’s in their food.

Few, if any, other election campaigns in the state have mobilized so many voters so quickly with such a huge network of volunteers. Now, the Yes on 37 Campaign is pledging to make history again with an ambitious goal of organizing One Million More Californians for the Right to Know.

The One Million More drive, launched this week, involves thousands of volunteers going door to door and reaching out at grocery stores and farmers markets around the state. The campaign is also launching an online organizing offensive, with voters showing their support at www.CARightToKnow.org and in social networks and online communities.

More than 300 bloggers have signed on to promote the campaign and more than 800 organizations have endorsed Yes on 37, including farm, business, consumer and environmental groups, public health advocates and labor unions.

As these groups attempt to make history by organizing a million more supporters, the Yes on 37 Right to Know Campaign has already made history by standing up to some of America’s most powerful corporations that want to keep us in the dark about what’s in our food.

Which side of history will you be on?

You can sign up to join One Million More who agree that we have the right to know what we eat and feed our families.

—–

Stacy Malkan is media director for the Yes on 37  California Right to Know Campaign to label genetically engineered foods. If passed by voters in November, California would be the first state in the U.S. to require labeling for a wide range of genetically engineered foods.

Related Stories:

Genetic Engineers Blast GM Crops

9 Out of 10 Americans Want GMOs to be Labeled

Fattening Our Kids on GMO Foods

Read more: , , , , , ,

Photo courtesy of the California Right to Know Campaign

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82 comments

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4:36PM PST on Jan 6, 2013

Thank you Colleen, for Sharing this!

12:26PM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

What are they hiding? Label it!

10:40AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

I fully support Prop 37 because we have the right to know what is in our food! Additionally, I feel strongly that we need to take back control of our food from the toxic chemical companies and greedy corporate food manufacturers that have dominated our food sources and are profiting from basically poisoning us! Such as RICH'S FOOD CORPORATION that are on the list of backers AGAINST Prop 37 who put HFCS & GMOs in their foods, even bread! They are under the radar since their pre-made doughs/foods take on the name of the store or restaurant that sells them! Here is a petition to sign and share! http://www.thepetitionsite.com/667/776/825/please-stop-using-high-fructose-corn-syrup-corn-sugar-gmos-in-your-products/

10:39AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

I fully support Prop 37 because we have the right to know what is in our food! Additionally, I feel strongly that we need to take back control of our food from the toxic chemical companies and greedy corporate food manufacturers that have dominated our food sources and are profiting from basically poisoning us! Such as RICH'S FOOD CORPORATION that are on the list of backers AGAINST Prop 37 who put HFCS & GMOs in their foods, even bread! They are under the radar since their pre-made doughs/foods take on the name of the store or restaurant that sells them! Here is a petition to sign and share! http://www.thepetitionsite.com/667/776/825/please-stop-using-high-fructose-corn-syrup-corn-sugar-gmos-in-your-products/

7:26AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Thank you.

2:28PM PDT on Jul 30, 2012

Reed .. It looks as if most of your comments are still up. Oh well.
His GM potato study was published in the lancet, but I do not have a subscription..but you can Google his name.
There was a massive hoo haaa in the UK..and it was a total disgrace how he, a previously well respected scientist, was treated. He received 1.6 million GBP grant for this research (approx $2.7M)..not small chump change… he was totally savaged and his career ruined…luckily he was nearing retirement.
Yes it was potato’s and there was obviously some other issue with the transformation, as just adding isolated lectin didn’t cause any issues just as expected..sadly given that the rug was pulled from under his feet I doubt that we will get to know what the actual cause was ….which is a huge a shame.
Monsanto is Goliath and their reach is far and wide, they have government support (as shown by their refusal to label despite 90% public support for the iniative, the revolving door at the FDA and Obama promising to label in his 2008 campaign), then there are the wiki leaks cables talking of retaliation against Europe and pushing GM crops as a strategic government and commercial imperative. As a consumer I should be allowed to vote with my $’s, if I do not want to support Monsanto I shouldn’t have to buy Organic or read through a bunch of labeling to make sure I’m not buying any ingredient that may have come from a GMO so I can avoid funding their bottom line. The or

1:10PM PDT on Jul 30, 2012

Tonya, I assume most of my comments have been removed as well, as I have yet to check. I am not sure the level of moderation on this article. I might add that my comments would be more likely to be removed due to my lone stance on this topic it seems.

You know, as well if not better than 90% of persons commenting on this article, as you understand the actual techniques used to modify and insert or silence genes.

With regards to Dr. Putsztai's article, I can't seem to get a copy of it at the moment, but if you could find me one I would greatly appreciate it. From what I understand it was comparing gm potatoes. Some methodology comments have been made and I would like to read it for myself.

I think what I wanted to say though is, even if the experiment was completely valid, it still would not invalidate other gm crops... each one is different, with the exception I suppose of similar gene insertions such as Bt toxin in corn and cotton. Although, different plants contain different enzymes and there fore different side reactions. With the toxicity of the lectin not in question, it would have to be side reactions that would result in these symptomatic effects. This would beg the question that if it is the side reactions that are the problem, does RNA silencing play the same role in GM foods as the side reactions are not apparent or present.

Also this entire block is commenting on the david and goliath battle... but again not one person has mentioned other than me the

12:12PM PDT on Jul 30, 2012

well well all my comments have vanished ...so I proved that I have detailed knowledge in the subject having a Degree in Biochemistry & Genetics and make it clear that I do not want to eat GMO food crops... and viola....as if by magic my comments have been erased... I wasn't offensive or off topic.. I'm blown away - you expect this on yahoo comment boards but care2 ?

Just look up what Dr. Arpad Pusztai found out and what subsequnetly happened to him...and then decide if we are going to drink Monsanto/FDA/Dupoint etc Kool Aid.

(Dr.Árpád Pusztai is a Hungarian-born biochemist and nutritionist who spent 36 years at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland. He was regarded as a world expert on plant lectins - defensive proteins that kill insects and other invaders - with over 300 scientific papers, including two in the prestigious journal Nature.)

"I would have characterised [his treatment] as disgraceful. I don't see how any reputable scientist ... could be treated in this way," said Dr Stanley Ewen, a pathologist who was then at the University of Aberdeen and who worked with Pusztai.

10:54AM PDT on Jul 30, 2012

SHOW ME THE LABEL!

8:34PM PDT on Jul 29, 2012

I dearly hope that Californians pass this in November !!! And I hope it quickly snowballs and that it becomes the law everywhere that all GMO engineered foods be clearly marked. I will never buy them.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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Colleen H. Colleen H. is an Online Campaigner with Care2 and a recent transplant to San Francisco from the East... more
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