Californians have a chance next Tuesday to support our right to know what’s in our food. Proposition 37, the GMO Right-to-Know Act calls for labels to inform consumers when food is genetically modified (GMO).
If this seems like common sense, it is. Dozens of other countries require labeling on GMO foods, but in the U.S., the biotech, pesticide and food industries teamed up with FDA bureaucrats, who overruled the agency’s scientists (who said that GMOs could trigger new allergies, cause toxic effects in food, and result in other health problems) and decided that GMOs would not be subject to labeling laws (not terribly surprising, given FDA’s track record of dubious drug approvals).
But of course, Monsanto (the leading maker of GMO seeds) and their allies are spending millions of dollars to run anti-choice ads that spread lies about Prop 37 and our right to know about GMO food. Even after being exposed for lying, the pesticide makers’ campaign continues to mislead Californians about this simple labeling measure.
What’s funny for parents is that among the first forays in the GMO wars here in the U.S was over baby food. Back in 1999, a front page Wall Street Journal article announced that Gerber had decided to eliminate GMOs from all of their baby foods. A top Gerber executive explained the move to eliminate GMOs, stating “parents trust us; if they don’t trust us, we are out of business.” Interestingly, Gerber was at the time owned by Novartis (now Syngenta), one of the world’s leading makers of GMO seeds.
Gerber’s move was widely applauded and other baby food makers quickly followed suit. Dozens of other companies also now offer non-GMO foods, everything from amaranth to ziti. Many of these foods are labeled as “Non-GMO.”
While some companies are doing the right thing by refusing to use GMOs, too many processed foods today contain GMO ingredients yet provide no labeling to inform consumers of these risky, untested foods. The burden for labeling foods as “Non-GMO” should not fall to responsible food companies who are providing the same healthy, natural foods they always have. Prop 37 addresses this injustice by requiring companies who choose to use GMOs to simply label their products as such.
If these companies like Kellogg’s, General Mills, Kraft, Nestle’s and many other major name-brand food makers choose to use GMOs, they should be unafraid to let us know. Yet clearly they are plenty scared – these and other food makers have joined Monsanto in funding the campaign of lies about Prop 37.
The bottom line is plenty scary: independent doctors and scientists have warned about the serious health and environmental risks from GMOs, yet our federal government has failed to adopt any safety testing or labeling requirements. Because these risky new foods are unlabeled yet used widely throughout the food supply, parents often cannot avoid them. This means that GMOs are a mass, nonconsensual experiment on our food, and our children will be the first generation exposed to GMOs for their entire lives.
The pesticide and chemical companies that make GMOs are the very same companies that made DDT, ozone-hole destroying CFCs, persistent pollutants like PCBs, and dozens of other harmful products that have caused massive health and environmental problems for more than 100 years. We cannot trust our food supply to these corporate criminals. California has a chance to protect our children from risky GMOs. Please vote YES on Prop 37!