by Daphne Mariko Drake
Proponents of GMO labeling are now one step closer to enacting the Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act in California, which would require special labels for food made from genetically modified ingredients. Advocates collected nearly a million signatures certifying this measure will be placed on the November 2012 ballot by the Secretary of State. Polls show that 9 out of 10 voters in the United States and California agree that genetically engineered foods should be labeled, and this issue has received overwhelming bipartisan support. Currently, there are no labeling standards in place for GMO’s, and the market is completely unregulated.
Read the full measure by clicking here (PDF will open in a new window).
The United States is one of the few industrialized countries to lack proper labeling. The entire European Union, Japan, and even China have implemented standards. If this measure passes, California would be the first state in the nation to require such criteria (currently, only Alaska requires labeling on genetically modified fish and shellfish). Under this initiative, companies would have until 2014 to alter their current labels to state that they contain ingredients derived from plants whose DNA was altered with genes from other plants, animals, viruses or bacteria.
About 95% of sugar beets are genetically engineered, as well as 94% of soy beans and 88% of feed corn. None of these genetic alterations occur naturally; they were all created and modified in labs. These items can be found in cereals, baby foods, breads, chips, and even products that are labeled “natural”. The Food & Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency currently have no regulations for these genetically engineered and modified foods for human consumption.
Human studies are sparse to date, but there is a broad call for more research due to suspicion that foods made from GMO plants are linked to an increase in allergies. Food sensitivities have skyrocketed, and animal studies have shown alarming rates of infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system.
Naturally, there has been very strong opposition from corporate special interests, and millions of dollars are being spent by the processed food and chemical industry on anti-labeling advertisements.
At Sunfood, we believe in sharing information and committing to honesty about our high quality products, which is why the majority of our food line is certified organic by independent firm CCOF. Many of our products have now been verified as non-GMO by the Non-GMO Project, the only non-profit third party verification organization, with additional products in their queue. The Non-GMO logo (left) is positioned on the front of all new labeling as products replenish shelves in retail grocers and markets.
Enough independent data suggests possible health risks associated with consuming GMO processed foods. If this measure passes, providing these new labels would provide much needed transparency and allow consumers in California to make their own choice. Stacy Malkan, a spokesperson for the Right to Know organization, said in a statement: “This initiative is pretty simple. It’s about our fundamental right to make informed choices about the food we eat and feed our families.”