controversy stupidity over genetically engineered food has moved up the chain, all the way to the ballot box.
If they do something so asinine they should also have labels on organic food reading something along the lines of “Grown in shit without the chemicals that protect your safety” – it’s only providing information to help consumers make informed choices…
In November, voters will decide whether to make California the first state in the nation to require labels on most genetically modified food products. At least 18 states, including California, have tried to pass similar laws through their legislatures and failed. This time, however, the measure made it to the statewide ballot with 1 million citizen signatures; recent polls show Proposition 37 winning by a significant margin.
Food activists across the country are watching the California battle closely, with opponents of genetic modification hoping to make the proposition a model for other states. Supporters of the law, including organic trade groups and environmentalists, say consumers have a right to know if the food they’re eating contains genetically modified material – particularly when the long-term health effects are unclear.
Opponents, though, including agribusiness and major food manufacturers such as PepsiCo, Nestlé and Coca-Cola, say such fears are misguided, and that the benefits of genetically modified food far outweigh the perceived negatives. Indeed, the Food and Drug Administration, many scientists and medical organizations have deemed genetically modified foods safe.
‘Safest’ in the world
“Bioengineered crops are the safest crops in the world,” said Bob Goldberg, a molecular biologist who’s a professor at UCLA and a member of the National Academy of Science. “We’ve been testing them for 40 years. They’re like the Model T Ford. There is not one credible scientist working on this that would call it unsafe.”
Seventy percent to 80 percent of processed foods sold in the U.S. are made with genetically engineered ingredients, including corn, soybeans, sugar beets and cotton oil. Many of these crops have been genetically altered in the laboratory to make them more resistant to pests and invasive weeds, reducing the need for chemical pesticides and making the crops better suited to survive periods of bad weather. Genetically modified crops also significantly increase per-acre yields, reducing the demand for farmland.
If the California measure passes, processed genetically engineered food products would include the words “Partially produced with genetic engineering” on the front or back label. For whole foods such as sweet corn or salmon, grocers would be required to have a sign on the shelf. Manufacturers and stores would have 18 months to make the change. Alcohol, most meat, eggs and dairy products would be exempt.
Opponents of the proposition say that labeling would send a message to consumers that genetically altered food is dangerous. And they warn that manufacturing costs of requiring labels on food sold only in California would trickle down to consumers in the form of higher grocery bills. Some farmers and processed food manufacturers also fear that they would be subject to frivolous lawsuits should they fail to label the food properly.
“If this proposition passes, it will expose me to lawsuits, require me to do more paperwork and require me to have two operations,” one for genetically altered crops and one for conventional, said Erik Freese, a fifth-generation farmer in Dixon, Calif. He said he started using corn seed genetically engineered to resist invasive weeds and pests in 2001, and it has greatly reduced how much he’s had to till the soil and spray herbicides. And his yields have increased 1,000 to 3,000 pounds an acre, he said.