Thursday, October 25, 2012

Californians To Vote On GMO Labeling Of Food Products

Oct 25: A highly controversial ballot initiative in California will allow voters to decide whether mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food should be required. If the measure is approved it will certainly be considered in other states and in future legislation. California's Proposition 37, if approved, would require: 
  • Require labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if the food is made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways.
  • Prohibit labeling or advertising such food as "natural."
  • Exempt from this requirement foods that are "certified organic; unintentionally produced with genetically engineered material; made from animals fed or injected with genetically engineered material but not genetically engineered themselves; processed with or containing only small amounts of genetically engineered ingredients; administered for treatment of medical conditions; sold for immediate consumption such as in a restaurant; or alcoholic beverages."
    The initiative is highly opposed by large chemical and pesticide companies like Monsanto, E.I. Dupont, DOW Agrisciences, Bayer Cropscience, BASF Plant Science, Syngenta Corporation, Pepsico, Coca-Cola, Nestle, and Conagra Foods who have all donated over $1 million to defeat the proposal. In all, opposition companies have contributed $35.6 million to defeat Proposition 37. Industry argues that the proposal is deceptive, deeply flawed food labeling scheme that would add more government bureaucracy and taxpayer costs, create new frivolous lawsuits, and increase food costs by billions -- without providing any health or safety benefits; is full of special interest exemptions; and authorizes shakedown lawsuits.
    Supporters of the initiative -- Organic Consumers Fund, Mercola Health Resources, Kent Whealy and others -- have raised some $7.7 million in support of the initiative. The Environmental Working Group (EWG), that supports the proposal indicates in a release that, "Americans eat their weight yearly in genetically engineered food, much of it created by large chemical and pesticide companies funding an expensive ad campaign to defeat the common-sense Proposition 37 to label genetically engineered foods in California."
    Ken Cook, EWG president and a resident of California said, "If genetically engineered ingredients are good for you, why do these companies want to keep you in the dark? Americans have a right to know what's in their food so we can make an informed decision for ourselves."
    EWG indicated in a release, "Anti-Proposition 37 ads are urging consumers to trust corporate giants like Monsanto, Bayer and DuPont, which have long records of releasing toxic pollution into communities' water and air and now claim that genetically engineered ingredients hidden in food are safe. In fact, neither the government nor independent research institutions have conducted health testing or long-term monitoring of the health dangers of genetically modified foods. The only studies that exist have been performed by seed companies that make so-called genetically engineered organisms [GMO]."
    Access complete information for and against Proposition 37 from the BallotPedia website (click here). Access a release from EWG (click here). [#Toxics]
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