Quantcast

Give Consumers a Choice—Label GMO Foods, Yes on Prop 37

GMO

Right to Know

by Tom Fendley

Proposition 37 is not a referendum on whether or not genetically engineered foods are safe. It's about our right to know what it’s in our food.

“The question of whether to label genetically engineered (GE) foods, as Proposition 37 would require, is not about science. Prop 37 is about people having the right to know what's in their food and how it was produced. It's about making competition in a free market—the hallmark of capitalism—more transparent," wrote Dr. Belinda Martineau, a molecular geneticist who was principal scientist at Calgene, Inc. when they introduced the first genetically engineered food, the “Flavr Savr” tomato, in 1994.  The tomato was labeled and was initially so popular that one store had to limit customers to two tomatoes per day—proving that transparency can be a good thing all around.   

Yet no genetically engineered product has been labeled in the U.S. since then. And today, Monsanto and the other major pesticide and junk food companies are spending $45 million to defeat a citizen's initiative for our right to labels. Why? It’s pretty simple: They believe their optimal business model depends upon secrecy and a lack of transparency. They don’t want to provide consumers a choice.

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has a better idea for them. She wrote, “Instead of opposing this common-sense measure, I would urge these companies to embrace better food labeling and make their case for their products directly to consumers are worthy of purchase and consumption.”

Of course, lurking in the background of the Prop 37 discussion is a valid question: are genetically engineered foods safe? Incredibly, despite these foods being on the market for nearly twenty 20 years, we don’t yet know.

“Studies on short- or long-term health effects are hard to find since the FDA does not require them for market approval,” wrote Dr. Richard J Jackson, a pediatrician and former Director of CDC's National Center for Environmental Health.  

Dr. Jackson has endorsed Proposition 37, as has Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, whose board Jackson directs.

“Any statement suggesting extensive safety testing of all genetically modified crops is absolutely false,” said David Schubert, professor and Laboratory Head Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute, in an excellent piece by Michele Simon.

“A majority of the new GM crops coming through the agriculture biotech pipeline have had zero testing done on them,” Schubert said.

There's an explanation for the shortage of independent research on genetically engineered foods, of course. As the editors of Scientific American wrote, "(A)gritech companies have given themselves veto power over the work of independent researchers...only studies that the seed companies have approved ever see the light of peer-reviewed journal."

Until we know that our food is safe, shouldn’t we at least have these foods labeled so that we can steer away from them if we so choose?

“Given the longstanding and repeated patterns of false reassurances in environmental health, it is only fair and prudent for people to be skeptical of safety claims, and have the right to know what they are being exposed to,” Dr. Jackson said.

Indeed, two of Prop 37’s leading opponents, Monsanto ($8.1 million) and Dow ($2 million), once told us Agent Orange and DDT were safe.

Meanwhile, our pesticide and junk food opponents, in the official voter guide, claimed—falsely—that the World Health Organization has concluded GMO foods are safe.

“In fact, the World Health Organization says that ongoing risk assessments are needed and that ‘GM foods and their safety should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that it is not possible to make general statements on the safety of all GM foods,’” wrote Simon. “Meanwhile, the American Medical Association favors pre-market safety testing, which the FDA does not require.”

So, let’s allow independent scientists to do more testing. In the meantime, how about we finally give consumers a choice?

“This citizen-scientist, for one, is voting 'yes' on Prop 37,” wrote Dr. Martineau. “I wholeheartedly support providing Californians with information about whether the foods in their grocery stores have been genetically engineered.”

Watch this Yes on Prop 37 Mythbusters Video:

Visit EcoWatch’s GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISM page for more related news on this topic.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Logging state in the U.S. is seen representing some of the consequences humans will face in the absence of concrete action to stop deforestation, pollution and the climate crisis. Mark Newman / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images

Talk is cheap, says the acting executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, who begged governments around the world to make sure that 2020 is not another year of conferences and empty promises, but instead is the year to take decisive action to stop the mass extinction of wildlife and the destruction of habitat-sustaining ecosystems, as The Guardian reported.

Read More
The people of Kiribati have been under pressure to relocate due to sea level rise. A young woman wades through the salty sea water that flooded her way home on Sept. 29, 2015. Jonas Gratzer / LightRocket via Getty Images

Refugees fleeing the impending effects of the climate crisis cannot be forced to return home, according to a new decision by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, as CNN reported. The new decision could open up a massive wave of legal claims by displaced people around the world.

Read More
Sponsored
The first day of the Strike WEF march on Davos on Jan. 18, 2020 near Davos, Switzerland. The activists want climate justice and think the WEF is for the world's richest and political elite only. Kristian Buus / In Pictures via Getty Images

By Ashutosh Pandey

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is returning to the Swiss ski resort of Davos for the 2020 World Economic Forum with a strong and clear message: put an end to the fossil fuel "madness."

Read More
Protesters attend a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court held by the group Our Children's Trust Oct. 29, 2018 in Washington, DC. The group and the plaintiffs have vowed to keep fighting and to ask the full Ninth Circuit to review Friday's decision to toss the lawsuit. Win McNamee / Getty Images

An appeals court tossed out the landmark youth climate lawsuit Juliana v. United States Friday, arguing that the courts are not the place to resolve the climate crisis.

Read More
The land around Red Knoll near Kanab, UT that could have been razed for a frac sand mine. Tara Lohan

By Tara Lohan

A sign at the north end of Kanab, Utah, proclaims the town of 4,300 to be "The Greatest Earth on Show."

Read More