I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and knowledge on the new initiative to label genetically engineered food. I’m not going to tell you what to vote for because even I’m still trying to decide. I’m also not claiming to be some kind of expert. I am just a normal person like most people trying to figure out what I should vote for. I can’t exactly say that I have an unbiased opinion either because I already practice staying away from genetically engineered food. I trust Mother Nature and believe that God made everything perfect. I don’t really think that there is a need to change the DNA of our food.
First of all, what are genetically engineered (GE) foods (also known as GMO – genetically modified organisms)? It means that the genetic material (DNA) of a living organism has been changed. Most of the time plants are changed to be able to resist pests and pesticides. Sometimes living organisms are genetically modified to grow faster and bigger. Most genetically engineered crops are corn and soybeans, but other common crops are alfalfa, canola, cotton, papaya, sugar beets, and zucchini.
What is Prop 37 proposing?
Just to quickly summarize it, here are the 3 main proposals:
1) Requires that most GE foods sold be labeled as such. All plants, whether partially or entirely GE have to be labeled.
2) Requires the Department of Public Health to regulate the labeling
3) Allows individuals to sue food manufactures who violate the labeling provisions
This is where it gets confusing. There will be some food products that will be exempt from this labeling. That includes alcoholic beverages, organic foods, and restaurant food. Also animal products such as beef or chicken that were not directly produced through genetic engineering even if the animal was fed with GE crops.
What plants are used in alcohol? grapes (wine), barley, wheat, corn (beer, spirits), potatoes, and fruit.
I would guess that if you’re drinking beer that it contains GE plants in it because it’s mostly made with wheat and corn. Both of those crops are usually GE. When drinking wine it’d be easier to avoid GE food because I’m not aware of grapes being GE. If you get organic wine then you’re even guaranteed they didn’t use GMO or pesticides.
Why wouldn’t alcohol be included?
I’m guessing that maybe people feel that if you’re drinking alcohol maybe you wouldn’t be as health conscious or maybe we’d just not care as much because it’s not something we drink every day. Or perhaps alcohol isn’t regulated in the same manner as food. What’s your guess? I’m not too sure on this one, but it won’t really affect me since I’m not a big drinker.
Organic foods are excluded.
This one is easy. Certified Organic food cannot intentionally contain GE ingredients, so why waste the time and effort to regulate this when it’s already regulated by the USDA.
I’m going to guess that restaurant food is excluded because it would be difficult to regulate. I actually always assume the worst when I go to a restaurant because I would guess that most (especially fast food) restaurants would want to buy the cheapest food for their restaurant and most of the time it will be low quality unless you’re going to an upscale or health-type restaurant. This doesn’t bother me at all because I try not to eat out and keep it to once a week at the most.
Animal products such as beef or chicken that were not directly produced through genetic engineering even if the animal was fed with GE crops are excluded.
This is yet another confusing one. Why would animal products be excluded such as beef and chicken?
“Not directly produced through genetic engineering” - This tells me that if the animal was genetically engineered it would need to be labeled. But if the animal was fed with GE crops then it doesn’t need to be labeled. Most factory farmed animals are fed with GE crops such as corn (not part of their natural diet by the way). I’m not aware of any animal that is genetically engineered. I know that there was a proposal to introduce a GE salmon that grows faster and bigger, but it hasn’t been approved. From what I read in the proposal for Prop 37, I would believe that this salmon would have to be labeled if it was introduced to the market. You can avoid eating animals that were fed with GE crops by purchasing organic meats and looking for beef that is pasture raised and also grass-fed. Chickens should be cage-free. Another option would be to go vegan and not eat animal products at all.
If this proposition passes, I think people are going to be very surprised that a lot of their processed food contains GE ingredients. It seems like most processed food contains some type of “corn” product such as High Fructose Corn Syrup. It makes me wonder if people saw the label GE all over their food, that people would start to question the health of their food or where it came from. Is it possible that processed or GE food would become more expensive and piss off a bunch of people? Possible but not for certain. Let’s just say it’s possible - If you shop at non-health food stores where that label might be plastered everywhere and prices might go up as companies try to continue to make as much profit as possible and also possibly try to bully us into turning away from this labeling system. I think that could piss off lots of people. On the plus side, it’s possible that the demand for organic food would increase, which would cause organic food prices to decrease. Let’s all consider this though, when we asked companies to add information to their products such as nutrition info and ingredient lists, did the prices go up? Not that I noticed, so it’s possible that the prices won’t be affected as well. There are a lot of “ifs” here.
Whether this proposal passed or not, people that care most about staying away from GE food are more likely to do their own homework and find a way to stay away from GE foods like myself. I find it fairly easy to not eat GE food. For example, buying organic food, shopping at health food stores and farmers markets, frequently cook at home instead of eating at restaurants, and staying away from processed food as much as possible.
Find tips on how to stay away from GE (GMO) food here: http://nongmoshoppingguide.com/tips-for-avoiding-gmos.html
I do love the idea of pushing out companies like Monsanto, Dupont and DOW and putting pressure on everyone to find new options because our system now in my opinion is not sustainable. If you have interest in finding out more about GE or GMO watch the film The Future of Food or Food Inc or watch both. They’re both available on Netflix.
I also find it scary that large companies like Monsanto, Dupont and DOW don’t want people to know what’s in their food. If GE food is so safe, what does it matter if people know more about it? These large companies are also the supporters of opposing this proposition. Tip: Look up the background information of these companies. “Monsanto was also one of the most important producers of Agent Orange for United States Military operations in Vietnam”
On my facebook page I had mentioned that I saw a commercial that opposed Prop 37 that was very misleading. From my memory, and maybe you’ve seen it, the commercial showed that this proposition would require that dog food be labeled but not beef or chicken that’s for human consumption. In the commerical it states that the measure “makes no sense at all” because it mandates that some foods be labeled while others are exempted by the proposed law. It also says, “It just gives an indication of the arbitrary and completely illogical nature of this ill conceived proposition”. If you read the proposition proposal, you can easily see the reason for this. It’s because dog food contains animal products AND grain/corn products that are more than likely from GE crops. Since dog food has GE products in it, then it will be labeled. However, beef and chicken are exempt because the animal themselves are not GE. See how the commercial is misleading and not totally true?
Do you believe you have the right to know if your food has been modified from its natural state?
Resources and helpful links:
The complete official voter guide where you can find all of the proposition details: http://vig.cdn.sos.ca.gov/2012/general/pdf/complete-vig-v2.pdf
Supporters of opposing Prop 37 are using scare tactics: http://napavalleyregister.com/news/opinion/mailbag/prop-opposition-resorting-to-scare-tactics/article_1b570072-11cb-11e2-84cd-0019bb2963f4.html
See who is supporting No on Prop 37: Coalition Against the Deceptive Food Labeling Scheme, sponsored by Farmers, Food Producers, and Grocers. Major funding by Monsanto Company, E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and more than 40 food company
members. For a full list of donors visit www.NoProp37.com/donors
No on Prop 37 supporters: http://www.noprop37.com/facts/
Yes on Prop 37 supporters: http://www.carighttoknow.org/
See who is supporting Yes on Prop 37. Endorsers include: the California Nurses Association, California Democratic Party, California Labor Federation, United Farm Workers, American Public Health Association, Consumers Union, Sierra Club, Whole Foods Market, California Council of Churches, Organic Consumers Association, Center for Food Safety, Consumer Federation of America, Mercola Health Resources, Public Citizen, and Food Democracy Now! http://www.carighttoknow.org/endorsements
How to avoid GMO foods: http://nongmoshoppingguide.com/tips-for-avoiding-gmos.html
What is GE/GMO? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_organism