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What’s on Your Plate? Prop 37 & the Right to Know

Right To KnowBy Elyssa Paige

Which speaks louder: millions of voices in support of the movement to label genetically modified food in California, or millions of dollars spent against it?

Time, and your vote, will tell.

Proposition 37 will be on California’s November 2012 ballot, presenting a chance for consumers to discover what’s really at the end of their forks with a label to indicate the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food.

GMOs are created when genes from one species are inserted into the genetic sequence of another to produce a desired result. For example, a breed of corn has been engineered to produce its own pesticide. There is also a tomato that contains a cold water fish gene to help it resist cold environments. 

90% of Americans are in support of the mandatory labeling of GMO foods, according to a study conducted by the Mellman Group. Fifty nations across the globe—including the entire European Union—all have some form of disclosure requirement, if not an outright ban on GMO foods.

Despite what the world is saying, certain mega-corporations would like to stop Prop 37 in its tracks.

The reason?

Projected loss of profits. “Frankenfood” may negatively impact profits.

The weapon?

Big money. According to Cal Access, the current finance leader in the campaign against Prop 37 is biotech giant Monsanto at $7.1 million. Producing the herbicide Roundup, genetically engineered seeds and bovine growth hormone, Monsanto also proudly provided the U.S. military with Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

Speaking of weapons, the number two campaign contributor at $4.9 million against Prop 37 has humble beginnings as a gunpowder manufacturer. DuPont has risen to produce a range of products, including toxic farm chemicals and seeds genetically engineered to resist them.

PepsiCo weighs in at $1.7 million. This major food producer’s product portfolio includes brands like Frito-Lay, Tropicana, Gatorade, and Quaker. With the passage of Prop 37, the corn in Fritos, Doritos, Cheetos and Tostitos would suddenly be called into question in the public eye. It’s no far stretch to imagine that the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in Pepsi’s trademark beverage contains GMO corn.

The implications with HFCS span far and wide across our food chain, as this ingredient pervades countless other highly-processed foods, from beverages and cereals to breads and condiments.

Proponents of GMOs wave the flag of solving world hunger with higher crop yields and nutritionally enhanced foods. They proclaim to help farmers to battle pests and developing countries to beat malnutrition.

Prop 37 Poster - Click for Large VersionOpponents prefer natural methods to deal with pests and weeds on the farm over toxic chemicals and genetically engineered seeds. They value biodiversity, a measurement of the health of our planet based on the variety of species and ecosystems which are literally threatened when GMOs travel across farms and take over.

The long term health and environmental consequences of GMOs are virtually unknown. Being part of a massive human experiment has consumers thinking twice at supermarket shelves.

Plus, moral implications arise at the concept of patenting seeds and slapping a price tag on what was once free. For generations farmers have saved seeds after harvest for the next planting. Now seeds have been genetically engineered to be sterile, meaning they must be purchased each season.

This brings us back to money. It’s what companies like Monsanto, DuPont and PepsiCo are striving to protect. It’s not about solving world hunger and increasing farmer productivity, as biotech companies would have you believe. It’s about profit, plain and simple. It’s about keeping American consumers in the dark.

The campaign against Prop 37 is rooted in fear and falsehood, arguing that labeling is a bad idea because food prices will skyrocket due to the costs of testing and regulation enforcement.

Shining truth on the subject is the Right To Know campaign in support of Prop 37. In reality, there are no testing or regulatory requirements associated with the Proposition. It simply mandates that food manufacturers know their supply chain and label the intentional use of GMOs.

Full disclosure: by financially contributing to Yes on 37 Right To Know campaign, Sunfood joins the American Public Health Association, the Sierra Club, the Center for Food Safety, and many others as one of the voices rising up to promote food transparency.

Proposition 37 is about protecting our freedom to choose and our right to know what we’re really eating. It’s about taking responsibility for our choices. Many countries around the world have removed the blindfold at the dinner table. Now it’s our turn.

To learn how you can help Prop 37 pass, visit www.carighttoknow.org

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