The negative TV ads about Proposition 37 are full of deception and outright lies. Among other misinformation, they say that Prop. 37, the initiative to label genetically engineered foods, will make food prices soar and will just create another costly government bureaucracy.
Of course, we'll be flooded with more of these misleading fear-based ads, because the opposition has already put up over $35 million to fight our right to know what's in our food! Funding the fight against Prop. 37 are biotechnology giants (Monsanto, Dow Chemical, and DuPont) and large food corporations that are all profiting by selling us unlabeled genetically engineered food.
In this struggling economy, they are banking on the idea that they can create enough fear about increased food costs that we will be willing to give up our basic right of informed choice about what we buy and put into our bodies!
The notion that food prices would significantly rise by simply adding one line of information stating that the food is genetically engineered is absurd.
Did we notice an appreciable difference in food costs when the much larger block of information about other nutritional data was added to food labels? Of course not!
We can also look at the results in the nearly 50 other countries where labeling of GE food is already required, including most of Europe, Japan, India, and even China. The cost of food did not dramatically rise in those countries as a result of labeling.
According to David Byrne, who served as the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection in the European Parliament at the time of labeling in the European Union, “When the current labeling regime [of genetically engineered food]...was introduced in 1997, it did not result in increased costs, despite the horrifying (double-digit) prediction of some interests."
Proposition 37 gives companies eighteen months to change their labels. Within this reasonable time frame, most companies make changes to their packaging anyway, so this would not create an added expense.
Arran Stephens, President of Nature's Path, explains, "We, as with most manufacturers, are continually updating our packaging. It is a regular cost of doing business--a small one at that--and is already built into the price consumers pay for products. Claims that labeling GMOs would significantly increase the price of food for consumers just aren't true. Companies would certainly be updating their packaging for other reasons within the 18 months they will be given to comply with the new law and could simply make the additional GMO labeling changes at the same time."
Joanna Shepherd Bailey, Ph.D., Professor at Emory University School of Law, conducted an independent economic assessment of the proposed "California Right to Know--Genetically Engineered Food Act" (Prop. 37).
According to Dr. Bailey's analysis, the average "one-time expense" to redesign labels would be approximately 0.03% of the average annual per-product sales. To the average California household, she estimates this would be a one-time average cost increase of $1.27 to offset the labeling expenses.
However, she also notes that "empirical studies show that the fear of losing customers in the competitive food industry will be a deterrent to changing prices." Thus, she suggests that the prices for many food products would not change as a result of Proposition 37.
As for the government bureaucracy the opponents of Prop. 37 are warning us about, it simply isn't true. It doesn't even require the government to enforce it.
Prop. 37 just gives citizens and organizations the power to sue the company if a product is genetically engineered and not labeled as such. The claim that this will bring frivolous lawsuits and line the pockets of attorneys is also misinformed. Lawsuits would be limited to stopping the company from continuing to sell the product unlabeled and would compensate for the reasonable cost of investigation and prosecution only.
The grassroots campaign supporting Prop. 37, although more than a million strong, cannot afford to compete with the millions of dollars being spent by the giant corporations fighting it.
So, before you believe the deceitful TV ads against it, I urge you to read the initiative yourself so you are not misled by the lies. You might also question why they are spending so much to avoid simple labeling and to keep us from knowing what they've done to the food!
You can learn more about the health concerns of genetically engineered food and how that information has been suppressed by attending a free showing of the documentary film, “Scientists Under Attack,” at the Napa Valley College Community Room (next to the library) on Tuesday, October 9th at 7 p.m.
Get informed, because it's your health and Your Right to Know!
Carol Nagle, Ph.D, LCSW
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