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Whose Right Is It Anyway?

Genetically engineered foods—how Proposition 37 can help.

In 1973 the food industry successfully overturned the imitation rule which stated “ … there are certain traditional foods that everyone knows, such as bread, milk and cheese, and that when consumers buy these foods, they should get the foods they are expecting … [and] if a food resembles a standardized food but does not comply with the standard, that food must be labeled as an ‘imitation.’ ” They got it tossed out because, and understandably so, the word ‘imitation’ on a label meant the kiss of death.

One of the outcomes of this little known but significant step is the more than 17,000 food products, brought to market every year. That’s a staggering number. This explosion of food products (notice we’re saying food products not food) has landed predominantly in the center of the grocery store full of imitation who knows what, additives, preservatives, chemicals, and all other ingredients but real food. Read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food.

Now the American food industry wants to continue down that path and genetically modify our food without having to let us know. This year's election gives Californians a chance to let our voice be heard. According to LATimes.com, Proposition 37 requires “food manufacturers and retailers to label fresh produce and processed foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients.”

According to Dr. Mercola, “the greatest opportunity to give people the right to know if their food is genetically engineered will occur with the California ballot initiative—officially known as Proposition 37—which is coming up for vote on Nov. 6. Proposition 37 requires labeling of genetically engineered foods and will end the routine industry practice of labeling and marketing such foods as ‘natural.’”

With a few weeks until Election Day, this proposition has strong momentum and support. But it’s so critical to take it to the polls and vote. There are huge companies opposing the proposition ~ Monsanto, DuPont, Coke, Pepsi, Bayer to mention a few. These are not companies on my list as for caring about my health or having my best interests in mind.

It’s no surprise many Californians are supporting their right to know regarding genetically modified foods. Links have been found between genetically modified foods and organ damage, allergies and other health problems in children. According to CARightToKnow.com, “Even though genetically engineered foods have been on the market for more than 15 years, the first long-term, peer reviewed health study on GMO corn was just released – linking GMO corn to mammary tumors, kidney and liver problems and premature death.”

Genetically modified foods can also lead to serious environmental problems, which have been well documented. As the amount of genetically engineered crops has increased, there has been a loss in bio-diversity and an increase in pesticide usage. Many “super weeds and super bugs” now threaten acres of farmland. Genetically engineered foods can also lead to the unintentional contamination of organic and non-GMO crops.

To get more information on Proposition 37, visit www.CARightToKnow.org.

This Election Day you can make your voice heard. If you don’t want to stand for the status quo, vote YES on Proposition 37.

Lenore Sanborn October 18, 2012 at 04:51 AM
I usually don't discuss politics publicly, but this is a proposition that I'm glad you brought up, since there are conflicting messages regarding this issue. The arguments against prop 37 include increased grocery prices, unnecessary red tape and difficulty for farmers. Some opponents point to the "exempt" products to demonstrate the proposition's inefficacy. Every small farmer I know (primarily those farming sustainably in Santa Cruz/Watsonville and up though to Sacramento) completely SUPPORTS this proposition. (These are not farmers with a deep profit margin, nor a lot of time for working around red tape... in fact they tend to be staunchly libertarian in their views, preferring NO GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT/INTERVENTION in their businesses. They have assured me that they will not be additionally burdened and that it really is simply a labelling/information initiative, and does not introduce much red tape, expense nor intervention by the government. It is a matter of labeling, just like when companies decided to put "FAT FREE" on their packaging. Meat products are exempted: primarily because we do not currently market GMO nor cloned meat products. If we get to that point, I hope that those will be labelled as well. There are confusing messages associated with this proposition. The long list of major opponents to the proposition (DUPONT, MONSANTO- major developers of GMO seed), is probably more telling than any arguments they can make. I'm voting YES on Prop 37.
Maaliea Wilbur October 18, 2012 at 05:15 AM
Thanks for spreading the word Tamara!
Tina Silva Blease October 18, 2012 at 03:44 PM
I so agree! Food is only its best in its natural form. To me it's as simple as that.
Tina Silva Blease October 18, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Great article Tamara! My wish is that articles like this will sway others to make their voices heard!
lifeSport Fitness October 18, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Tamara, Thanks for bringing to our attention a very important matter. Even for those of us who try to eat whole, fresh food most of the time, it's really hard to know with certainty what might lurk within that food! There are a lot of things on the upcoming ballot I'm undecided on, but your article has given me enough information (as well as opportunities to read more on the subject), that I'll be an informed voter w/regard to this particular ballot measure. Thank you! Warm regards, Becky Williamson
Erika Taylor Montgomery October 18, 2012 at 04:32 PM
I've been hearing all the radio ads on both sides of this issue. I find it concerning that it's the 'unhealthy' food & beverage manufacturers that are against Prop 37 - that in itself gives me pause. I feel like we DO have a right to know how our food is processed and what's in it. This is a standard practice in at least 50 other countries and it's time the US gets on board with health - not big business. Prop 37 has my 'yes' vote!
Tamara Archer October 18, 2012 at 05:00 PM
You're right. That we're behind illustrates the 'follow the money' adage and who stands to gain from the measure. The list of opponents speaks volumes. Thanks for your support!
Tamara Archer October 18, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Glad to have helped spread the word. Please share this link and other information you get on to others. This will set the precedent for other states and affect our food chain nationally.
Tamara Archer October 18, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Glad to have your vote! Please share this link with others and help spread the word.
Tamara Archer October 18, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Thanks for the support!
Taylor W October 18, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Very interesting that some 7,000+ new "food products" as you put it so well are introduced to the market every year. We definitely have the right to know what we are eating, from their people can choose what it is they consume...but we should know what we ingest!
Tamara Archer October 18, 2012 at 05:09 PM
This came through my email from Lisa Ayala, Naturopath on yesterday's Dr. Oz program and is worth the read. I agree, I'd much prefer less governmental involvement to more. The FDA and other governmental bodies are much more aligned with big business than they are the individual constituent. "If you have not seen Dr. Oz today, they are talking about GMO foods and the right to be informed via labeling. They also mentioned that California is the first state in the nation to vote on this requirement. One of his guests indicated that they did studies and found that consuming GMO foods causes an increase wide range of chronic illnesses including allergies, diabetes, digestive problems, etc. When people were taken off GMO foods, the incidence of diseases went down or went away. They also talked about studies on rats in that when they were fed GMO food, they got many tumors in breast, liver, pituitary and other areas. They also talked about a cover up that allegedly started 20 years ago when FDA scientists urged the FDA to do more studying. They talked about the fact that the FDA has ignored the science and now does studies designed to avoid discovering the problems. Dr. Oz's shows usually repeat in the next week, but if you missed this episode I know you can go on line to Dr. Oz and watch this episode any time you like. As such, we again URGE everyone to vote YES on Proposition 37."
Tamara Archer October 18, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Yes we should and it's 17,000 food products a year! A couple of the criteria Michael Pollan uses to distinguish food from a food product are: is it something your great grandmother would recognize, and does it have 5 or less ingredients. And it's easy to be fooled. Most would say the bread on our shelves would be recognized by our great grandmothers, as apposed to something like Gogurt, but if you look at the bread of old had 4 ingredients, water, flour, salt, and yeast, our bread today is a far cry from being called food. Below is a list of food products found in many pantries and the number of ingredients. Most of which are additives, fillers, chemicals, extenders, preservatives, artificial flavors and colors and more. i. Wonder Bread – 42 ii. Orowheat Country Whole Grain White – 36 iii. Trix - 29 iv. Gogurt – 14 v. Pop tarts – 50 vi. Fiber Plus bars – 48 vii. Sugarfree pudding – 21 (doesn’t even need to be refrigerated!) viii. SnackWell’s popcorn - 13 ix. Mac-n-cheese - 23 If this is already what overruns our stores, consider the ramifications if GMOs don't need to be identified.
Carrie Vawter-Yousfi October 19, 2012 at 05:42 PM
I vote for the "right to know". In hopes other states will follow. Is it true that CA is the first state with this vote on the ballot? I had heard of this "37" but didn't quite understand, thanks for simplifying for me:) Carrie
Tamara Archer October 19, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Thanks for your comment. We can vote on Nov 6th, vote every day with our wallet, and stay informed with the different causes and petitions and keep our voices heard.
Dyan Chan October 21, 2012 at 01:36 AM
I wish the "imitation" labeling law had passed! I'm always bemused when I read something called "processed cheese food." I'm all for providing access to information people need to make good decisions!

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