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Prop 37

The elections are over, and I’d like to call out specifically the unfortunate decision California voters have made on a groundbreaking referendum concerning Genetically Modified Foods.

Proposition 37 would have been a good thing for consumers who care about the ingredients that make up their food. I will summarize what the proposition actually said below, but for anyone who needs the whole text it can be found many places on the web.

I found one here:

The title says it all:

The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act
Seems pretty straightforward, don’t ya think?

After all, if a food is combined witha couple of genes that allow a farmer to attack a bug through a food the bug eats, and I happen to eat that food as well—hey those folks who designed this are taking into account my trillions of cells, aren’t they?
Sure they are. And I’ve got a bridge to sell you too. It’s over there in that swamp.
I recommend reading Jeffrey Smith’s Genetic Roulette and Seeds of Deception.
Smith documents what has happened to distinguished researchers at UC Berkeley and Scotland’s Rowette Research Institute when they tried to publicize their findings. They say that test animals fed Genetically Modified foods had smaller livers, hearts, testicles, and brains; damaged immune systems; white blood cell differences; thymus and spleen problems; and lots more. Some countries in the EU have instituted regulations.

Labeling in the EU is mandatory for products derived from modern biotechnology or products containing GM organisms. Legislation also addresses the problem of accidental contamination of conventional food by GM material. It introduces a one percent minimum threshold for DNA or protein resulting from genetic modification, below which labeling is not required.

I talk to shoppers in the store every day who are seeking information to make a better choice in their diet. Gluten intolerance, sugar or salt restrictions, peanut allergies, and organic vs. natural vs. conventional are common criteria. Most of us would hardly know the difference between GMO foods and everything else and that’s fine. But others really need to know.

We take a great deal of pride at Willy Street Co-op that we are revealing what can be known about the foods we sell. And our Owners expect that. When it comes to foods where the presence or absence of Genetically Modified seeds and ingredients is declared by the manufacturer, we are pleased because the consumers had a choice!
Unfortunately our government has yet to insist that food manufacturers declare their use of GMO products. So California activists put it before their state and tried to tell the story ahead of the election as best they could. It was a real David and Goliath fight. And Goliath happened to be well-armed with massive amounts of money.
The campaign to defeat the proposition was heavily bankrolled by chemical companies and food manufacturers. And the majority of that funding—some 93 percent of the $44 million raised to defeat the proposition—came from out of state.
By comparison, the Yes on 37 camp raised $7 million for a campaign dubbed the “crusade against Frankenfood.”

And once again the wizards of the sound bite managed to influence public opinion away from a simple and honorable request: just let us know. You can still sell your food but we deserve to know.

The statewide ballot initiative to label genetically engineered food known as Proposition 37 was soundly defeated on election day by 53 percent to 47 percent.
Think about it. Almost half the people wanted to know the truth. I will be hopeful because it may be true that the fact that it was withheld may in itself prompt consumers to make certain where their food comes from. Eat Local!

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