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California Activists Hope To Pass GMO Labeling Law

Proponents of the bill say that if customers are made aware of the genetically modified contents of their foods, they will gravitate toward non-GMO options.

Hand-drawn images of DNA double-helices.

Photo: dullhunk (Flickr)

Proponents of the labeling law argue that GMOs have not been proven safe for human consumption, while opponents say there's no reason to believe they're any less safe than other food.

California anti-GMO activists have taken up legislative arms in the form of Ballot Proposition 37.

If it passes, U.S. food companies will be compelled to label all products that contain genetically-modified ingredients.

GM soy, corn and canola are staple components of many packaged foods, but most Americans are unaware of their prevalence.

Corporate Opposition

Monsanto leads the corporate movement to oppose the ban, and the GMO giant has joined forces with food manufacturers like Pepsi, Kellogg’s, Hershey and General Mills.

As of August 16, the campaign to oppose Prop. 37 had raised over $25 million dollars and had legitimate hopes of doubling that figure in time.

Potential For Nationwide Impact

Proponents of labelling believe that if customers are made aware of the genetically modified contents of their foods, they will change their buying patterns to gravitate toward non-GMO options.

Because California is home to ten percent of the country’s population, the state’s purchasing power has the potential to influence how companies work nationally.

In a fundraising e-mail, supporters of the law contend that “ if a company like Kellogg’s has to print a label stating that their famous Corn Flakes have been genetically engineered, it will be the kiss of death for their iconic brand in California… and everywhere else.”

A Misleading Campaign?

Opponents of Prop 37 contend that the bill is full of exemptions for special interests, however. For example, while soy milk made from genetically modified beans must be labeled, dairy milk from cows fed genetically-engineered grains are exempt.

They further assert the contention that GMO food has not been proven safe is misleading. GMO food has not been proven dangerous either.

Strong Potential To Pass

Similar measures have been introduced in other states with none of them passing. California may buck that trend.

Recent polling shows the pro-labelling side has a three-to-one lead over the legislation’s opponents, despite being outspent nearly two-to-one.

Read More:

  • Prop 37: Will California Be First State To Label Genetically Modified Food? (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Big Tobacco Shills Trying To Stop GMO Labelling (Food Safety News)
  • The Misleading Campaign Behind California’s GMO Labeling Initiative (Slate)
Sarah Gordon

Sarah Gordon has been interested in food ethics since she was 15, learned about industrial slaughter, and launched into 10 years of vegetarianism. These days, she strives to be a conscientious omnivore. Now a PhD candidate in folklore, her research has caused her to spend a lot of time in the remote Canadian sub-arctic, where the lake trout (sustainably harvested) tastes amazing.

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  • EL

    “Opponents of Prop 37 contend that the bill is full of exemptions for special interests.” Not true! Prop 37 was written with consideration of the challenges it will face from the very opponents of Prop 37 now criticizing for being full of exceptions! For instance, Prop 37 can address only one issue or it will be challenged in court for covering more than one issue. Proponents would love to have products from animals fed GMOs labeled at such, but one thing at a time.

  • cinmik

    Sarah Gordon, I for one am really hoping that California leads the way for labeling of GMOs. Here in NY, as well as many other states, our representatives caved under the threats and pressure of BIG BUSINESS to label GMOs. (so much for representing the will of their constituents). America wants labeling !!!!!!

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