We are writing to encourage the local community to get behind the “yes” on Proposition 37 campaign to require the labeling of genetically engineered food in California, which will be voted on this November.
Over the past decade, polls have consistently shown that about 90 percent of Americans want GE foods labeled and that a majority would prefer not to eat them. Because the government has failed to require such labeling, due to the lobbying efforts of large biotech corporations that have developed and profit from this technology, citizens in California have led a grassroots effort to bring this issue directly to the voters, bypassing the government and its corporate influence.
In the past, the biotech industry has claimed that the FDA has thoroughly evaluated GE foods and found them to be safe; this claim is untrue. FDA documents, made public from a lawsuit, reveal that in the early ‘90s FDA scientists warned that GE foods could create toxins, allergens, nutritional problems, and cancer, which might be difficult to link to GE foods, especially if they are unlabeled. Nevertheless, political appointees at the FDA, with strong ties to industry, ignored their own scientists; and, still to this day, official FDA policy claims that GE foods are "substantially equivalent" to natural foods and do not, therefore, require safety testing nor labeling.
The fact that Monsanto Corporation is the main producer of GE foods and is responsible for ensuring its own products’ safety is even more disconcerting, since claims of its earlier products’ safety (Agent Orange, PCBs, and DDT) were later found to be untrue. Furthermore, based on animal feeding trials that have been done linking GE foods to health problems, such as allergies, gastro-intestinal problems, toxicity to the liver and kidneys, and infertility, in 2009 the American Academy of Environmental Medicine began recommending that people avoid eating GE foods, which would be possible only if they are labeled. That organization, as well as the American Public Health Association, has endorsed Proposition 37.
During this campaign, surely the opposition will say that mandating the labeling of GE foods will cause food prices to go up, a fear it knows will resonate with people during these hard economic times. However, the initiative was written to be of no cost to Terms the state. It does not limit but also does not require that the government enforce the law. Instead, it gives citizens and non-governmental organizations the right to bring an action in superior court, and allows the court to impose an injunction restraining any person from violating the law and to award all reasonable costs of investigating and prosecuting the action. In addition, about fifty countries already require that GE foods be labeled, including major US trading partners, such as the European Union and Japan, as well as Australia, New Zealand, China, Korea, India, and many others. Major food suppliers already know which food is GE and which is not as they already have to label it in these countries; proponents of Proposition 37 merely want that same right—the right to know if a food product has been genetically engineered or contains a GE ingredient, so they can avoid it if they so choose.
If you would like to get more involved in this campaign, please considering going online to endorse, donate money to, and/or volunteer to help out with Proposition 37 at http://www.carighttoknow.org/, or join our local Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/groups/labelgmosnapa/.
California Right to Know Campaign, Napa Group
Erica Martenson, Co-coordinator
Joyce Nichols, Co-coordinator
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