We need to fight for correct labeling of food
The battle for safe food is not over, despite the defeat in California.
California’s Proposition 37, which would have made it mandatory to label foods containing ingredients from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), was narrowly defeated on Nov. 6 as a result of a $46 million fear-mongering propaganda campaign funded mainly by the biotechnology and food-processing industries.
These engineered foods have never been demonstrated to be necessary or safe, and scientific studies not funded by industry consistently find in them safety problems with serious implications for human health. That’s why they are essentially banned in the European Union.
Some argued that the California measure was unnecessary because organic GMO-free foods are labeled as such, and therefore consumers can simply choose to buy those. But such a libertarian argument falls from its own weight, given that polls show that the great majority of U.S. consumers are unaware that there are vast amounts of GMO foods out there.
Surveys show that Americans would avoid GMO foods if these were labeled. An ABC News poll showed that 93 percent of Americans want GMO foods labeled.
But Monsanto, DuPont, Pepsi and Kellogg scared a small majority of voters into falsely believing that labeling genetically modified products would raise food prices.
Big Food and Big Biotech are celebrating their California victory, but the fight is not over — not by a long shot.
Even as Proposition 37 was being defeated on Nov. 6, the voters of Washington state’s San Juan County voted to prohibit the planting of GMO crops. And unfazed by the defeat in California, Washington residents are now busy gathering the 320,000 required signatures for a statewide referendum on GMO labeling.
Additionally, consumer rights groups are working for labeling in 30 states and have united as the Coalition of States for Mandatory GMO Labeling.
At the national level, a petition to Congress demanding the countrywide labeling of GMOs has received more than 52,000 signatures. A similar petition by JustLabelit.org addressed to the Food and Drug Administration has more than 1.2 million signatories.
As more and more Americans become concerned about what’s in their food, the popular demand for labeling genetically modified organisms will only grow louder.
Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero is a Puerto Rican author, journalist and environmental educator. He can be reached at pmproj [at] progressive [dot] org.
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