Friday, November 02, 2012

California's Proposition 37 and Labeling Genetically Engineered Foods

JenOn Election Day, voters in California will vote on Proposition 37, an initiative that, if passed, would require mandatory labeling of food containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. Much has been written about the issue lately and people are not just paying attention in California, but across the country and the world.

Here are some of the facts about Genetic Engineering in your food:

  • GE crops are grown all over the country and most of the processed food you eat contains GE ingredients.
  • 88% of wheat, 90% of corn, 89% of sugar beets, and 90% of soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically engineered.
  • More than 50 countries have labeling of GE food, including the EU, China, Japan and Russia.
  • 92% of Americans want labeling of GE foods.

The debate about the benefits and risks of GE crops has been going on since their introduction nearly 20 years ago. While one side assures us they are safe, the other side warns us of the dangers. Meanwhile, each and every day we unknowingly ingest them in the food we eat—in fact, we each eat on average 193 pounds of GE food each year. And our environment and our farmers are also feeling the impact. GE technology has given rise to superweeds that are resistant to the standard chemicals used to fight them, meaning stronger and more chemicals are used in the fields to keep weeds at bay.

Farmers who wish to grow non-GE seeds often cannot find them locally and have to go to great distances and costs to find non-GE seed. Organic farmers are constantly at risk of having their crops contaminated by GE pollen. While the debate continues, this is a statement we can all agree on: we have a right to know what’s in our food. That’s the premise of Proposition 37.

While 92% of Americans have said in polls that they want to know what’s in their food, the proposition has an uphill battle. Back in September, the polls showed that the measure had popular support in California. A month later, the level of support has dropped precipitously, and that likely has a lot to do with the fact that the opposition has spent more than $45 million dollars to sway opinion in their direction. The entity that has spent the most, at more than $8 million? Monsanto.

If you want transparency in the food system, if you think you deserve the right to know whether or not the food you eat has been genetically engineered, vote on Tuesday!

Click here for more information about Proposition 37.

If you’re outside California, you can still speak up for labeling GE foods by joining the 1.2 million people who’ve told the FDA to "Just Label It!"

Take a look at this video for one farmer's perspective on Proposition 37:

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