California leads with Proposition 37
by Phil Watson
• The battle in California over Proposition 37, which would require labelling of foods containing GMOs, is really heating up. Millions of dollars are already pouring into the opposition campaign, with much of it going to former Big Tobacco shills.
“As California goes, so goes the nation” and Monsanto knows this very well. That is precisely why its coalition of dozens of chemical, biotech, agri-business and huge food conglomerates have dumped over $24 million to squash the California Genetically Modified Food Right to Know Act in November. This California ballot measure was originally inspired by a northern California housewife concerned about the health impacts of GMOs on her family and future generations. A burgeoning movement of citizens, organic farmers, natural food producers, health food stores, public health organizations and environmental groups joined together to put Proposition 37 on the ballot to defend our right to know what’s in our food.
The stated purpose of the Act found in Section 2 is “to create and enforce the fundamental right of the people of California to be fully informed about whether the food they purchase and eat is genetically engineered and not misbranded as natural so that they can choose for themselves whether to purchase and eat such foods.”
Among its findings and declarations are the following statements:
Genetic engineering of plants and animals often causes unintended consequences. Manipulating genes and inserting them into organisms is an imprecise process. The results are not always predictable or controllable and they can lead to adverse health or environmental consequences.
Government scientists have stated that the artificial insertion of DNA into plants, a technique unique to genetic engineering, can cause a variety of significant problems with plant foods. Such genetic engineering can increase the levels of known toxicants in foods and introduce new toxicants and health concerns.
Fifty countries, including the European Union member states, Japan and other key US trading partners, have laws mandating disclosure of genetically engineered foods. No international agreements prohibit the mandatory identification of foods produced through genetic engineering.
Organic farmers are prohibited from using genetically engineered seeds. Nonetheless, these farmers’ crops are regularly threatened with accidental contamination from neighbouring lands where genetically engineered crops abound. This risk of contamination can erode public confidence in California’s organic products, significantly undermining this industry. Californians should have the choice to avoid purchasing foods whose production could harm the state’s organic farmers and its organic foods industry.
Polls consistently show that more than 90 percent of the public want to know if their food was produced using genetic engineering.
The full text of the Act can be found at CA-Right-to-Know-Initiative12.pdf
Meanwhile, over at ‘GMO Central,’ Monsanto has recently posted a web article called Taking a Stand: Proposition 37, The California Labeling Proposal, explaining why the biotech giant opposes the initiative (with a single donation of $4.2 million so far). According to Michele Simon, a public health lawyer writing for the Huffington Post, the Monsanto missive is “riddled with deception and outright falsehoods about the initiative and its proponents.” In her article Top 10 Lies Told by Monsanto on GMO Labeling in California, Lie #8 says, “Beneath their right to know slogan is a deceptive marketing campaign aimed at stigmatizing modern food production.”
See the full article at www.huffingtonpost.com
Much will be at stake on November 8 when California voters make their choice on Prop. 37. If it succeeds, it will very likely have a domino effect for labelling GMOs in other US states and in Canada as well.