California voters have the opportunity to decide the fate of their food in November with Proposition 37 – The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act. Prop 37 will require manufacturers of food products that contain genetically modified foods (GMOs) to simply label their packages, thus enabling consumers to make more informed product choices. Prop 37 creates a clear standard for businesses to apply.
Written with broad input from food groups, business, science, legal, and health experts, Prop. 37 requires clear labels letting consumers know if foods are genetically modified. We already have food labels showing nutrition, allergy information, and other facts consumers want to know. This measure simply adds information telling us if food is produced using genetic engineering. Despite claims that Prop 37 would "ban the sale of thousands of groceries," it would not ban any foods at all. It merely requires that GMO-containing foods be labeled with the phrase “partially produced with genetic engineering” anywhere on the front or back of packages.
What is a GMO?
Genetically modified foods (GMOs) are those organisms “in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally” (World Health Organization, 2012). The five most common genetically engineered (GE) plants in the US today are corn, soybean, canola, cotton, and sugar beets.
GMOs have not been proven safe, and long-term health studies have not been conducted. A growing body of peer-reviewed studies has linked these foods to allergies, organ toxicity, and other health problems. However, unlike the strict safety evaluations required for the approval of new drugs, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require safety studies for genetically engineered foods. Various environmental problems associated with genetic engineering have been well documented, including biodiversity loss, an overall increase in pesticide use, and the emergence of super weeds that are threatening millions of acres of farmland.
What's at Stake
Americans have been denied the right to know what is in their food, and as a result the national Just Label It Campaign was created to petition the US Food and Drug Administration to label all genetically modified organisms.
The Public Supports Labeling
Over 90% of Americans are concerned about what is in their food and should have the right to know. By supporting the Just Label It Campaign participants are encouraging the FDA to place mandatory labeling on products that could contain genetically modified organisms. Currently over 50 countries have mandatory GMO labeling policies, including all of Europe, Japan, India, and China.
Business Leaders Support Labeling
Business leaders around the nation support giving consumers as much information about their food purchases as possible.
"New Belgium Brewing believes the effects of genetically engineered crops on human health, ecosystems, and agriculture are not yet fully understood. Many countries require labeling of genetically engineered foods, and we believe U.S. citizens deserve to know what they put into their bodies. We support a YES for CA Prop 37."
—Katie Wallace, Sustainability Specialist, New Belgium Brewing
"As New York State's first Benefit Corporation, Greyston Bakery is committed to providing transparency in our business practices so that our customers can stay informed about our operational standards. We support the labeling requirements in Prop 37 as the additional transparency on GMOs will allow consumers to make informed decisions regarding the products they are buying."
—Mike Brady, President, Greyston Bakery
To date, the No on 37 campaign has raised $34 million, compared to $4.5 million for the Yes campaign.
California Proposition 37 needs your support. Please get involved and vote on November 6th.