Why Labeling GMOs is Important
What is Proposition 37? Proposition 37 is a common-sense November ballot measure that will help consumers make informed choices about the food they eat. Written with broad input from food groups, industry, science, legal and health experts Prop. 37 (The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act) requires clear labels letting consumers know if foods are genetically modified.
What Are Genetically Engineered Foods (GMOs)? A genetically engineered food is a plant or meat product that has had its DNA artificially altered in a laboratory by genes from other plants, animals, viruses, or bacteria in order to produce foreign compounds in that food. This type of genetic alteration is not found in nature and is experimental. Many of the foods we currently eat and feed our families (including certain baby formulas and a high percentage of corn, soy, cotton and sugar beets commonly used in processed foods sold in the U.S.), but we don’t know which ones without labeling.
Example: Genetically Modified corn has been engineered in a laboratory to produce pesticides in its own tissue. GMO corn is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency as an Insecticide, but is sold unlabeled. [EPA Pesticides]. Walmart is now selling Monsanto's sweet corn that has been genetically engineered to contain an insecticide, but consumers don't know because it's not labeled.
Are Genetically Engineered Foods Safe? GMOs have not been proven safe, and long-term health studies have not been conducted. A growing body of peer-reviewed studies has linked these foods to allergies, organ toxicity, and other health problems. These studies must be followed up. However, unlike the strict safety evaluations required for the approval of new drugs, the US Food and Drug Administration does not require safety studies for genetically engineered foods. The United Nations/World Health Organization food standards group and the American Medical Association have called for mandatory safety testing of genetically engineered foods -- a standard the U.S. fails to meet.
GMOs Linked to Environmental Problems: Various environmental problems associated with genetic engineering have been well documented, including biodiversity loss, an overall increase in pesticide use, the emergence of super weeds that are threatening millions of acres of farmland, and the unintentional contamination of non-GMO and organic crops.
We Have a Right to Know What's in Our Food: Fifty countries around the world—representing more than 40% of the world’s population---already require GMO labeling, including all of Europe, Japan, India and China. Polls show that more than 90% of Americans want to know if their food is genetically engineered. We are free to choose what we want to eat and feed our children. The free market is supposed to provide consumers with accurate information about products so we can make informed choices.
Who is in Favor of Proposition 37? Prop 37 was initiated by a grassroots organizing effort with the help of thousands of volunteers across the state, the Right to Know campaign gathered nearly one million signatures from California voters within a 10 week period. More than 2,000 organizations – including media outlets, food manufacturers and retailers, leading consumer, environmental, farming, health, faith-based, political and labor groups – have since endorsed Yes on 37: www.carighttoknow.org/endorsements.
Who is Opposed to Proposition 37? Not one human being has made a contribution to the campaign against Prop. 37. Instead, the campaign is funded entirely by giant pesticide and junk food companies with a track record of making false claims about the safety of their products. The “No” campaign’s two largest donors-- Monsanto and DuPont—are the same companies that told us Agent Orange and DDT were safe. Further undermining the No campaign’s credibility is the fact that its biggest funder—Monsanto—produced a series of ads supporting labeling of GMOs in Europe in the 1990s.
A Simple Proposition for California in 2012: The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act is simple: The initiative would simply require food sold in retail outlets to be labeled if it is produced through genetic engineering, and would not allow these products to be labeled as “natural.” Prop 37 gives companies 18 months to change their labels, and allows for the GMO disclosure to appear wherever they choose on packaging.
No Cost to Consumers or Food Producers: Companies change their labeling all the time, and research shows that Prop. 37 will have no cost impact on consumers or food producers. In a recent study on the economic impact of Proposition 37, Joanna Shepherd Bailey, Ph.D., Professor at Emory University School of Law, concluded that there would be “no increases in prices as a result of the relabeling required.” In Europe, introduction of GMO labeling produced no increase in food costs. David Byrne, former European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection of the European Parliament, stated that when Europe introduced GMO labeling in 1997, "it did not result in increased costs, despite the horrifying (double-digit) prediction of some interests.”
Prop. 37 Doesn’t Ban the Sale of Any Foods: Despite opposition claims that Prop 37 would "ban the sale of thousands of groceries," it would not ban any foods at all. It merely requires that GMO-containing foods be labeled with the phrase “partially produced with genetic engineering” anywhere on the front or back of packages.
Greater Legal Certainty For Businesses: According to an independent legal analysis by James Cooper, JD, PhD, of George Mason University School of Law, Proposition 37 has been narrowly crafted in a way that provides “greater legal certainty” for businesses than other California consumer disclosure laws. It won’t invite frivolous lawsuits. What it will do is help California consumers make more informed choices about the food they eat.
If Proposition 37 passes, it will be a huge step toward the transparency we deserve. This is about our right to know what's in our food and the right to choose for ourselves what we eat and feed our families. These are fundamental American values. Join us in helping us win back our right to know about the genetic engineering of our food system. Vote Yes on 37 in November, join our campaign, share our ad, donate if you can (every little bit helps!).
Together, we can make history this November!
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