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We ALL Have a Right to Know

I’ve been purposely hanging back on the political front lately. It’s all a bit too much for me. It’s hard for me to even take it in – the division, the set-in-stone views and at times, outright hatred demonstrated by far too many.

But, I feel compelled to jump back into the mix to dispel some of the myths surrounding Proposition 37 and urge you to vote yes.

First, if you want more background on GMO’s, why they are a problem, what the issues are, and what’s at stake for our health and the health of our children, I highly recommend you watch the movie “Genetic Roulette“.

It is a full-length movie, worth your time to watch, but for a good digested version, here is a ten-minute summary.

For me, the supporters on the “yes” and “no” sides of a proposition are a clear signal of the way I want to vote. Here’s a little detail on each side.

It’s important to understand who the “No on 37” campaign actually is. The two largest contributors are Monsanto ($8.1 million) and Dupont ($4.9 million) – the same corporations that told us Agent Orange and DDT were safe. If you don’t know who Monsanto is (I affectionately call them “the devil’s company”) check out this. There are also the junk food companies helping to bankroll the opposition such as Cocoa Cola, Pepsi, Nestle and Kellogs. There are in fact ZERO donations from actual people to the No side– they are all contributions coming from multinational corporations.

On the yes side of the campaign are consumers, farmers, manufacturers, nurses, doctors and a lot of regular people (like me) who have contributed to the campaign. Proposition 37 started as a grassroots movement, with thousands of volunteers across the state. You can go here for a full list of supporters including the California Nurses Association, United Farm Workers, California Council of Churches, and the Sierra Club.

But, even so, the “no” campaign, with millions in funding, is making a dent with their deceptive advertising and at times, outright lies. Some of my close friends and family – and even one voter in my own household (who shall remain nameless but is not me) – have been sucked in by the well-funded “No on 37 campaign”. They have approached me with concerns. Here are some of those, along with my response.

1. Proposition 37 will increase food prices:

False – Adding a few words to labels costs nothing. Labeling DID NOT raise costs in 61 other countries (including  Europe, Japan, India and China) and won’t raise costs here. Read more about the costs of the proposition on this page of the CA Right to Know site.

2. Proposition 37 is poorly written and not strong enough.

False – Proposition 37 requires labeling for the genetically engineered foods that are most prevalent in the American diet – food on supermarket shelves. The goal is to maximize the amount of genetically engineered food that is labeled while keeping compliance easy and keeping Prop 37 within the reach of California law. The exemptions in the law are easy to explain and guided by common sense. Read the Truth about Exemptions.

Many have expressed concerns about the labeling of meat and dairy from farm animals. Proposition 37 is exactly in line with international standards, which state that these will be labeled if they come from genetically engineered animals. However, they are exempt if the animals ate genetically engineered feed but are not themselves genetically engineered. This exemption is common all around the world. It didn’t make sense for California’s law to be stricter than international standards

3. Proposition 37 will invite frivolous lawsuits:

False – According to independent legal analysis, Proposition 37 has been narrowly crafted in a way that provides “greater legal certainty” for businesses than other California consumer disclosure laws.  It won’t invite frivolous lawsuits.  What it will do is help California consumers make more informed choices about the food they eat.

If Proposition 37 passes, it will be a huge step toward the transparency we deserve in the food we buy. And it’s transparency for all – not just those people with enough disposable income to shop at Whole Foods. I believe it will also be part of a greater movement. Here is a great post on the California Right to Know site, where Michael Pollan (author of Food Rules, The Ominvore’s Dilemma and my go-to food expert) says “Proposition 37 is the litmus test for whether there is actually a food movement in this country.”

This is about our right to know what’s in our food and the right to choose for ourselves what we eat and feed our families. It’s also about standing up for that right and being part of a greater movement that will spread beyond our state. This is our chance. This is our food. This is our future.

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