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Prop. 37: People Have a Right to Know What They’re Eating

Prop. 37: People Have a Right to Know What They’re Eating

As it gets closer and closer to November 6, there has been an increased amount of publicity about Prop. 37, the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act. If Prop. 37 passes, California will be the first state in the United States to require plant or animal products to be labeled if they are genetically modified. This law would also make it illegal for food companies to label a product as “natural” if it contains any type of genetically modified ingredient. It is not a ban against genetically altered foods.

Supporters of Prop. 37 believe that it’s a way of allowing the consumer to know more about the food they eat, especially since there’s a lot of controversy regarding whether food that is genetically altered is safe for human and animal consumption. Large corporations are not above deceiving customers about what they’re putting into our food, especially if they can make more money doing so. Prop. 37 is simply a way to keep large corporations honest about what they’re putting in our food.

According to Natural News, Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen led the first study to determine the long-term effects of eating Monsanto’s genetically modified corn. The report concluded that “the animals on the GM diet suffered mammary tumors, as well as severe liver and kidney damage.” (Note: the methods used by this study have recently been questioned.) These findings have become widespread, and there are pictures everywhere of these horrifically deformed rats with grotesque-looking tumors. The GM corn that was used for this study is the same corn grown widespread across America. It’s in breakfast cereals, corn tortillas, corn chips, and other corn-based foods.

Consumers who believe in the harmful effects of GMOs want to make sure companies are not sneaking them into their foods. Some concerned mothers don’t want these products anywhere near their kids.

Those who oppose Prop. 37 argue that there’s really nothing wrong with genetically modified foods, and that the passing of the bill will have financial ramifications that will affect both consumers and producers. According to No on 37: Stop the Deceptive Food-Labeling Scheme, Prop. 37 would cost families an extra $400 per year in groceries. The Sacramento Bee states that same fact, and also adds that it would increase costs for farmers and food companies. In a television ad opposing Prop. 37, an old farmer is shown pleading with the American people to vote No on 37 because the increase in the costs would create financial challenges for him and other small farmers.

In John McKiernan’s Natural News article “No on Prop. 37 Ads Aim to Scare Voters,” he states that these ads are funded by Monsanto, DuPont, and other large corporations who are out to deceive and manipulate voters. They try to appeal to the viewers by having small farmers, authoritative speakers, and university professors give out misinformation. In fact, one of the ads was pulled off the air when a so-called Stanford University professor’s credentials were found to be false. McKiernan states that the cost of groceries for those that don’t consume GMOs will not be affected, and for GE consumers, the $400 increase in groceries is a gross exaggeration. The bottom line is that large corporations who want to make money off GE products are using images of small farmers and “professors” to manipulate the general public into voting against the bill.

A way to become more informed about a proposition is to look into the money backing each side. Who financially supports Prop. 37? Who financially supports the opposing side? In Zack Behrens’s article “Who’s Funding Prop. 37: Labeling for Genetically Engineered Foods?,” supporters of Prop. 37 claim that Pamm Larry, a grandmother from Chico, started it as a grassroots effort. As it gained steam, it received attention from small donors, and eventually gained support from Dr. Joseph Mercola, the Organic Consumer’s Fund, Dr. Bronner’s Magical Soaps, Nature’s Path Foods, Lundberg Family Farms, Organic Valley, and Natural News, among others. The biggest contributors from the opposing side are Monsanto, DuPont, Bayer, BASF, Dow, Syngenta, Pepsico, Nestle, Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellogg, and countless others.

 

Read more: Conscious Consumer, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Eco-friendly tips, Food, General Health, Green, Health, Healthy Aging, News & Issues, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Aimee Dansereau

Aimee Dansereau is a freelance writer living in San Diego, California. She once lived in Boulder, Colorado for several years, where she received an M.F.A. in Writing and Poetics at Naropa University. Her interests include writing, natural health and medicine, organic foods and the labeling of GMOs, spirituality, yoga, meditation, environmental issues, and human rights.

34 comments

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9:14AM PDT on May 12, 2013

Rerally hoping it goes through!

11:59AM PDT on Nov 2, 2012

(*continued) The citizen enforcement provision has proven to be extremely effective, especially given the decimation of agency oversight and enforcement budgets. Businesses do not like it when citizens can enforce the law because citizens often do a better job than government. That is exactly the goal of the provision. We note also that we do not anticipate very many enforcement actions under the law because food stuffs will have to be tested for GMO ingredients, a fairly expensive proposition. Where there are sophisticated citizen groups that can do so we believe that will help government enforcers who will not likely make this law a high priority for enforcement.
Finally, the companies who manufacture food products are in the best position to know what is in the food they are selling and to label their food. These large companies can easily require farmers to provide GMO information; the manufacturer then provides that information to consumers. There is no other way for the system to work. Farmers do not make food products and have no real way of knowing what happens to their products once they are sold. Retailers can easily require each of their suppliers to provide the necessary information as a condition of purchasing the product. Organic produce is a good example. Nutrition labeling on products is another example. The system is already set up and GMO labeling becomes part of that system.

11:47AM PDT on Nov 2, 2012

This a response to Stella's comment-

I wanted to provide some information to address your concerns. First, contrary to the advertising you are seeing, this law was carefully crafted. The exemptions were intended to make the law more workable, so that, for example, restaurants would not have to provide label on their menus and that meats (animals that are fed GMO products) with no added ingredients are not initially required to be labeled. These exemptions were intended to address arguments that surely would have been raised against the law but, like the old saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished. Despite the exemptions, the law addresses the vast majority of foods. With regard to lawsuits, yes, there is a provision for enforcement of the law with lawsuits. We know that laws are generally not effective without enforcement mechanisms. It is ironic that industry is convincing citizens that enforcement of the law is a bad thing. Many of our most successful laws, such as the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, have citizen enforcement mechanisms (the ability of citizens to bring lawsuits against companies that do not comply with the law). The citizen enforcement provision has proven to be extre

10:17PM PDT on Oct 31, 2012

I know it sounds like this is a great idea and that everyone has the right to know what's in their food but Prop 37 is an unmitigated disaster! It has gaps and loopholes you could fly the space shuttle through -- Dairy, eggs, meat and poultry are exempt; soy milk - regulated; / cow's milk - exempt; Girl Scout cookies - regulated / fortune cookies - exempt, dog food - regulated / meat for human consumption from animal raised on genetically-engineered feed - exempt. Prop 37 is sloppily written and puts the burden of proof not on the companies and farms that produce the food but on the retailers who sell it. This especially hurts mom-and-pop stores that don't have the resources to do this and opens up the stores to lawsuits for things over which they have no control. This is not a case where a bad law is better than no law. This is a case where a bad law is really bad!

11:56AM PDT on Oct 29, 2012

everyone has a right to know, this is a given. It should be fed. law that it be listed, oh wait then our so called leaders would not geet there kickbacks

6:43PM PDT on Oct 28, 2012

hope it does

6:36PM PDT on Oct 28, 2012

People have a fundamental right to know what they are eating because it is essential to their right of choice. How can anyone make a choice as to whether to eat GMO or not, for any reason, if they aren't even allowed to know which foods are which?

1:30PM PDT on Oct 26, 2012

Prop 37 NEEDS to pass!

We have a right to know where are food comes from and if it will make us sick.

I am disgusted our government is allowing our food supply to become tainted with genetically modified seeds.

I have a lot of health issues I feel stem from the foods I eat. Once I educated myself on modified foods and processed foods, I stopped eating them and I feel so much better. However, I am sure I am still eating some due to not knowing which are modified and which are not.

We have a right to know!

11:50AM PDT on Oct 26, 2012

So much big money and misleading advertising is being thrown at defeating this proposition. I am afraid that low information voters will just look at the lying ads and believe them. When I talk to people about this I am amazed at how many people don't even know what GMO foods are. It's kinds scary. I have already voted, another 4 years for President Obama and my new hero Vice President Joe Biden, straight Democrat on all other candidates and for labeling of GMO foods. I SOOO hope this passes! If it does it will open the door for this to become the law of the land all across our nation, as it should be.

12:43AM PDT on Oct 26, 2012

I still find it hard to believe that there is so much resistance to letting people know what they are eating and how their food is produced in the United States. Totally unheard of in so many other countries around the world. Sad.

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