Passing Proposition 37 in California could change consumer benefits in the food industry that may eventually influence the rest of the country.
California has the opportunity to be the first to implement an initiative that would require the labeling of food made from plants or animals with altered genetic material and prohibit marketing such food as “natural.” The effects of this proposition will be positive—research has proved this.
Proposition 37 does not bring a completely new idea to the world’s table. In fact, there are currently 61 countries in the world that require labeling for foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), including all 27 member states of the European Union; 11 of which are considered to be in the lineup for the world’s top 20 healthiest countries. These countries include Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Cyrpus, Austria, France, Greece, Ireland and Beligum, according to Bloomberg.com
In addition to the obvious health benefits of labeling foods with GMOs, consumers will also gain the information they need about foods that are linked to allergies and other health risks without the help of physicians and scientists. Instead of questioning a doctor about the food they consume, Californians will be able to read the back of a label and know that it is truthful and states the appropriate facts.
Additionally, it will not only provide consumers with information they should know about the foods they’re buying, but also provides the necessary exemptions.
The law exempts the following: certified organic, unintentionally produced with genetically engineered material, processed or containing minimal amounts of genetically engineered ingredients, or sold for immediate consumption in a restaurant, among others.
Opponents argue that label revising will add costs to consumers and that it is an unnecessary burden.
The truth is that companies would have 18 months to implement the new packaging law and it would be at no additional cost to consumers or food producers, according to CaRightToKnow.org, the organizers of Proposition 37.
The sale of any foods will not be banned, either. Instead, it enforces that all foods be appropriately labelled; if a food product is made with GMOs it should be marketed that way, leaving the choice to buy up to the consumer.
Unsurprisingly the opposition companies include pesticide and junk food brands, such as Monsanto (a multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation), PepsiCo Inc., Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, Hershey’s and General Mills.
According to CaRightToKnow.org, Monsanto, which contributed over $7 million to the “No on 37” campaign this year, ironically produced a series of ads in Europe in the 1990s supporting the labeling of GMOs.
Keep in mind the biggest supporters of the “No on 37” are corporations who own most of the GMO seed patents.
Supporters of Proposition 37 include small natural food companies like Organic Valley, Nature’s Path organic foods and Amy’s Kitchen, who believe that consumers have the right to know which foods include unsafe GMOs.
As of October 14, 2012, those in support of Proposition 37 have raised $7.7 million while those in opposition have raised a much larger sum of $35.6 million. This may be one of few cases where the numbers lie.
While the “No on 37” campaign may have the monetary support of some big-booming corporations, these corporations are not looking after the health of consumers but are instead hiding their “ingredients.” There should be no harm in appropriate labeling ingredients in food, even GMOs.
Proposition 37 is the only way that the Food and Drug Administration can support the people of California and require the appropriate labeling of foods.