Reasons to Vote Yes on Prop 37 – Vote Yes to Knowing What is In Your Food

Download the official Yes Prop 37 Logo for Facebook and Twitter!!Do you live in California? Have you watched television or listened to the radio in the past month?  If so, it’s likely that you’ve been bombarded with all of the different campaign propaganda that has been dominating the commercial slots as election day draws nearer .  You’ve likely heard or seen advertising for or against Prop 37 as they’ve been flooding the airwaves.   That’s because giant agribusinesses like Monsanto, Dow, and DuPont, and food manufacturers like Con Agra, Pepsico, General Mills, Nestle, Kraft and Kellogg are spending about $1 million per day to advertise against Prop 37.  So, what is Prop 37 and what impact does it have on us all?

Prop 37 requires labeling on raw or processed food if made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways.  It prohibits the labeling or advertising of such food or other processed food as “natural”.  It exempts 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 food sold at restaurants), or alcoholic beverages.  The financial impact to state and local government ranges from a few hundred thousand dollars to over $1 million to regulate the labeling of genetically engineered foods.

So, what is genetic engineering (GE) or genetic modification?  It’s the process of changing the genetic material of a living organism to produce some desired change in that organism’s characteristics.  Essentially, scientists unnaturally insert new DNA into a host genome to change the gene, delete the gene, add a gene, or introduce certain mutations.  The process is often used to improve a plant’s resistance to pests or allow it to withstand the use of pesticides.  The most common GE crops are corn and soybeans.  Last year, 88% of all corn and 94% of all soybeans produced in the U.S. were grown using GE seeds.  Some other common GE crops include cotton, canola, alfalfa, papaya, sugar beet,and zucchini.    Also, GE crops are used to make food ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup which are commonly used in processed foods.  Upwards of 70-80% of processed foods in U.S. grocery stores contain genetically engineered ingredients.  Everything from grains like rice, corn, and wheat, to legumes like soybeans and soy products, to vegetable oils, soft drinks, salad dressings, vegetables, fruits, dairy products including eggs, meat, chicken, pork, and even infant formula contain genetically engineered or genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  Consumers don’t know what they’re eating because labeling has been uncontrolled and unregulated.

What are the health hazards of GE foods?  Well, it will likely take years to learn the full effects of GE foods and when we finally know, it will be too late to completely reverse the damage.  However, a number of studies from the past decade have already revealed that GE foods can pose serious risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife, and the environment.  Human health effects can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune suppression degenerative diseases, and cancer.  I mean, when you screw around with the DNA and genes of our food, doesn’t it make sense that it might have long-term negative effects on humans that ingest unnatural DNA/genes?

So, what are the major objections to Prop 37 and how are they misleading?

1) It will cost consumers a lot of money – The anti-Prop 37 campaign funded a study to see how much this new labeling law would cost consumers.  What did they come up with?   A whopping $400 per year increase for a typical family.  The Vote Yes on Prop 37 people also funded their own study to see how much this new labeling law would cost consumers.  Their conclusion was a meager 73 cents per consumer per year.  So why the disparity in numbers?  It turns out that the bulk of the $400 increase would not come from the labeling changes, but from companies reformulating their processed foods to include non-GMO ingredients.

Prop 37 doesn’t require additional labeling.  It just requires the ingredients on the already existing ingredient label specify whether the ingredients are derived from GMOs.  Think about this.  Did food prices skyrocket when food manufacturers had to begin including the amount of saturated fat or trans fats on their nutrition labels?  Did they go up when they began requiring a warning on the label of products made in the same facility where allergens such as nuts, wheat or soy are processed?  Companies change their labeling all the time at no cost to consumers.  Also, it is important to note that GMO labeling in Europe did not lead to increased costs, despite the predictions.

2) It will lead to more unnecessary lawsuits – Right now, when a food is mislabeled and it leads to some sort of health problem, the consumer can take legal action against the company responsible for mislabeling the food.  This won’t change.  However, opponents of Prop 37 point to how Prop 65 (safe drinking water proposition) caused lawsuit abuse to run rampant and they fear that Prop 37 will do the same.  Well, Prop 65 actually had additional incentives written into the legislation where 25% 0f the winnings would go to the lawyers.  Prop 37 doesn’t have any of these extra provisions.  So, how will this lead to extra lawsuit abuse?  It won’t.

3) It’s poorly drafted and has all sorts of weird exceptions.  Below features the misleading propaganda from the No on Proposition 37 camp.

They are trying to mislead consumers into thinking that the proposition makes special interest exemptions and makes no sense.  However, if you dig a little deeper into these exemptions, you’ll see that they actually make quite a bit of sense and that the propaganda is just trying to steer voters away from the central issue which is that we as consumers have a right to know what’s in our food. Here are some explanations for these exemptions:

a) Beer, wine, and liquor – Alcohol is regulated under a special set of federal laws so it can’t be touched.  Plus, alcohol doesn’t have an ingredient list.

b) Restaurant food – Restaurants are not required to list the ingredients in their food.  Requiring restaurants to label GMOs would require them to track all the ingredients in restaurants meals.  Since no other law requires this, it doesn’t make any sense for this one to require it.

c) Cow’s milk and meat for human consumption from animals fed GE grains or silage – Prop 37 stipulates that any first generation plant, animal, insect, etc. that had its DNA genetically engineered will be labeled vs. 2nd generation GMO, the by-products of an animal that ate genetically engineered feed, meat, milk, eggs, etc, would not be labeled.  Therefore, soy milk, which likely comes from genetically-engineered soy crops needs to be labeled.  Whereas, cow’s milk, which may or may not have been fed feed which was genetically modified would not.  Essentially, the opposition is trying to tell you that animals are GMO because they eat GMO feed.  What does that make us when we eat GMOs?  Hmmm…

d) Pet food – Pet food containing genetically engineered crops such as corn or soy would have to be labeled under Prop 37 because the standard definition of food under the Sherman Act includes pet food.

4) We don’t need it – The opposition makes the case that if consumers want to know they’re buying GMO-free foods, they can already buy Certified Organic or non-GMO foods.  These third party verifications will make sure that consumers don’t buy foods with GMO ingredients.  So, why should we push this legislation forward when consumers already have a way of opting out of buying GE foods?

Don’t we have a right as consumers to know what’s in our food?  As things stand right now, there is no way for people to figure out the connection between their health and whether or not they’re consuming GMOs. We currently have no way of knowing whether certain illnesses can be directly attributed to the genetic engineering of our foods.  A mother currently has no way of knowing whether her baby’s reaction to infant formula was because it contained soy or because that soy was GMO soy.  We currently have no way of knowing if one’s allergic reaction to corn tortilla chips was because that person is allergic to corn or because those chips contained GMO corn.

5) Prop 37 will ban the sale of thousands of groceries – Prop 37 does not ban genetically engineered foods; it just requires that they be labeled with the phrase “partially produced with genetic engineering” somewhere on the front or back of the packaging.  This type of labeling is already required in 50 other countries around the world.

Don’t we have a right to know?  Don’t we have a right to decide for ourselves what’s in the food we’re eating and feeding our families?  Newsflash…the companies that are genetically engineering our food system without our knowledge or consent happen to be the same companies that told us DDT and Agent Orange were safe.  Monsanto (the top contributor on No on 37 has contributed $4.2 million in donations), Dow Chemical (contributed $1.2 million), and DuPont (contributed just over $4 million) have patent restrictions on GMOs which control and suppress much of the research on genetically engineered foods.  We now know the effects of Agent Orange and DDT (produced by the above mentioned companies) on humans and the environment, but it took decades to discover and decades to be banned.   Just because genetic engineering has not been banned yet does not mean it doesn’t have harmful effects to our health.  Please don’t allow these multi-billion dollar agribusinesses to continue to make billions of dollars while potentially harming the health of billions.  Make your voice heard and VOTE YES ON 37!  If you don’t live in California, you can still do your part in buying non-GMO foods and urging similar legislation where you live.

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