GMO and your right to know

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proposition 37, on the ballot this November, says: “Commencing July 1, 2014, any food offered for retail sale in California is misbranded if it is or may have been entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering and that fact is not disclosed.” In other words, we will get to know if our food contains genetically modified organisms (GMO, sometimes called GE for genetically engineered). That’s all Prop 37 does: ask for a truthful label. If people still want to buy GMOs, they can.

Why is it so important to label genetically modified foods? Many people think it’s a basic right, to know what’s in their food. Doesn’t this seem reasonable to you? There are supposed advantages: According to the World Health Organization, “All GM crops available on the international market today have been designed using one of three basic traits: resistance to insect damage; resistance to viral infections; and tolerance towards certain herbicides.”  GMO means that among other things crops are modified so they can withstand more pesticides. Corn, for instance, can now survive huge doses of Monsanto’s pesticide Roundup – because of genes from other organisms. Pesticides, which some GMOs are created to encourage, are linked to Parkinson’s disease in humans and definitely poison our air, soil, and water.

Millions of dollars are being spent to defeat Prop 37 by big chemical and food manufacturing companies: Monsanto, DuPont, Dow AgroSciences, ConAgra, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Cargill, BASF Plant Sciences, and dozens more are funding attacks on the proposition.

Here are their “reasons” to vote no: “Food will become more expensive” – how? They claim “Prop. 37 would add another layer of bureaucracy and red tape for food producers and increase food costs.” What bureaucracy? Oh, they must mean the existing agencies that prosecute fraudulent advertising. Another reason: It’s an expensive “payday for trial lawyers.” Well, only if companies fail to obey the law.

And the most hilarious “reason”: a few exemptions in the proposed law are “politically motivated.” We are shocked, shocked! Advocates of truthful labels are “politically motivated”!  This accusation comes from companies that contribute millions to defeat this proposition and other attempts to regulate them, contribute to politicians’ election campaigns, hire public relations firms to “spin” the truth and slime the messengers, and offer lucrative jobs to regulators so they’ll leave government and join the corporations.

This last is called the “revolving door” and is very real.  Here are some people who have worked for Monsanto AND held government jobs (before or after): Marcia Hale, Monsanto’s Director of International Government Affairs. Under President Clinton, she was on the senior White House staff. Mickey Kantor, on the board of Monsanto, was Secretary of Commerce. Carol Tucker-Foreman was a lobbyist for Monsanto and in the White House department of Consumer Affairs. Margaret Miller was a supervisor at a Monsanto Chemical laboratory, and became the Deputy Director of the Food and Drug Administration. That’s only part of a very long list. To see the rest of the folks who played both sides, go here  and click “Monsanto’s Government Ties.”

We must sadly admit that our regulatory agencies are hopelessly outgunned – and that’s why Prop 37 was started in the first place. Politicians won’t do it, regulators are being bullied or bought off – now it’s up to us, the citizens, to demand a simple thing: honestly labeled food.

To find out more, go to The Organic Consumers Association and California Right to Know.   To see what pesticide and food corporations have to say, go to noonprop37.com. (Notice it’s “.com”, a commercial site funded by Monsanto, Dow, Grocery Manufacturers, and their allies). For general information on GMOs, visit the World Health Organization or The Human Genome Project.

For yourself, for your children, for the environment, and for democracy, on November 6 vote YES on Proposition 37.

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