I'm dismayed to see that there's any question whatsoever about voting YES on Proposition 37 (label GMOs).
There is a massive disinformation campaign going on from every mass media outlet — TV, radio, mass mailings — being funded by the same folks who told us DDT, PCBs and Agent Orange are safe (they're not), and none of what they're saying is true. Stanford University even forced them to take one commercial off the air because they represented the spokesperson as a Stanford professor, which he wasn't. That should tell you all you need to know about the opposition's integrity.
I've been working on Prop. 37 almost since its inception and would like to set the record straight:
Proposition 37 is a well-written, well-researched proposition, put together by a diligent group of food industry, food policy, farm, science and health experts, several of whom I know and trust implicitly.
Proposition 37 specifically only addresses genetically-engineered crops sold whole or as ingredients in other food items, to make it as easy as possible for stores and companies to comply. These crops include: corn, soybeans, canola, sugar beets, cotton, Hawaiian papaya, some zucchini, and crookneck squash. California law requires that ballot measures only address one state code at a time. Items not included in Proposition 37 – alcohol and meat – are covered by different state or federal codes and therefore do not apply.
There is a strong precedent to Proposition 37 in the U.S.: The 2004 Food Allergen Labeling Act protects consumers by requiring labeling of possible allergens like peanuts, soy and dairy. When Congress approved it, the same food companies objected and made the same claims, yet, when the Act went into force, stores and companies complied, prices remained stable, there was no excessive or abusive litigation, and consumers had more information with which to protect themselves (we have all seen the labels, “This product made on equipment which may have once touched peanuts”).
Proposition 37 offers no economic incentives for lawyers to sue. The only new enforcement provision added by Prop. 37 allows a consumer to sue only for an order to force required labeling to take place – not to recover any money at all. Consumers cannot file a class action without first giving notice, and if the defendant fixes the labels, then no class action is permitted. Any penalties from a violation go only to the state, not the plaintiff or lawyer.
Proposition 37 does not include a “bounty hunter” provision like Proposition 65, which lets the plaintiff keep one-quarter of any civil penalty on top of an award of attorney’s fees. The same chemical companies making claims about lawsuits are themselves suing farmers across the country for saving their own seeds.
Food prices remained stable when the European Union required the labeling of GMOs ten years ago. Sixty-one countries across the globe either label GMOs or ban them completely, including Australia, Brazil, Japan, Peru, India, China and Russia. Why on Earth do people in Russia and China have more rights to know what’s in their food than we do? That’s not the country I grew up in.
Creates paperwork? Anyone who believes farmers who use Monsanto seeds don't already keep reams of paperwork to address the patent protection situation, aren't paying attention.
The grassroots effort that became Proposition 37 was started by a fearless, feisty grandmother from Chico, Pamm Larry, who couldn’t believe that genetically-engineered foods weren’t already being labeled. She called together some friend to help, those friends became a people’s movement which gathered nearly a million signatures to get her GMO labeling initiative on the ballot this Tuesday.
If you have other questions or concerns, I would be happy to address them. This is one of the most important issues of our time and California has the opportunity to lead the way towards greater transparency and a more level playing field (organic farmers are not federally subsidized; GMO farmers are).
To learn more:
NY Times editorial: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/15/g-m-o-s-lets-label-em/
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