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California Voters to Decide on GMO Labeling

Published: Wednesday 13 June 2012
“It’s about our fundamental right to make informed choices about the food we eat and feed our families.”
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Last night, the California Secretary of State’s office announced that the Right to Know initiative to label genetically engineered foods will be on the state’s November ballot. The historic initiative would be the first law in the United States requiring labeling of a wide range of genetically engineered foods.

“We’re thrilled that Californians will have the opportunity this November to vote for the right to know what’s in our food,” said Stacy Malkan, a spokesperson for the California Right to Know campaign. “This initiative is pretty simple. It's about our fundamental right to make informed choices about the food we eat and feed our families.”

The initiative requires labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) – which are plants or meats that have had their DNA artificially altered by genes from other plants, animals, viruses, or bacteria, in order to produce foreign compounds in that food. This type of genetic alteration occurs in a laboratory and is not found in nature.

Polls show nearly unanimous support across the political spectrum for labeling of genetically engineered foods. Nine out of ten voters in the U.S. and in California back labeling, according to recent polls (see Mellman 2012Reuters 2010Zogby 2012). An April poll by San Francisco TV station KCBS found 91% backed labeling.

The California Right to Know initiative is backed by a broad array of consumer, health, and environmental groups, businesses and farmers. Major endorsers include Public Citizen, Sierra Club, American Public Health Association, United Farm Workers, California Certified Organic Farmers, Organic Consumers Association, Consumer Federation of America, Nature’s Path, Lundberg Family Farms, Organic Valley, Dr. Bronner’s, Eden Foods,, Center for Food Safety, Food Democracy Now! and the California State Grange.

Grant Lundberg, CEO of Lundberg Family Farms in the Sacramento Valley, noted that the United States stands out as one of the few developed nations that does not provide consumers with simple labels to inform them if their food has been genetically engineered. “More than 40 other countries -- including all of Europe, Japan and even China -- already label genetically engineered food. Californians deserve to be able to make informed choices too," Lundberg said.

"As a doctor committed to the health of people and the environment, I strongly believe that people have a right to know, and to choose for themselves, whether to eat foods that have been genetically engineered," said Robert Gould, MD, president of the SF-Bay Area chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Susan Lang, a Sacramento mother of two who was one of thousands of volunteers who worked to place the initiative on the ballot, said passing the Right to Know initiative is in the best interests of everyone in the state. "I want to know whether the food I’m buying contains genetically engineered ingredients. All the parents I know want to have this information too,” Lang said. 

The California Right to Know initiative is widely regarded as the best chance to achieve GMO labeling in the United States, and the campaign has generated significant national interest in the growing movement for transparency in our food system, as reported in a recent front-page New York Times story.

In March, more than one million people submitted comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on a petition for mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods, more than any other petition in FDA history. Twenty states have tried to legislate GMO labeling, but none have succeeded due to intense opposition from corporate special interests.

“All eyes are on California, and the voters of this state will support our right to know what’s in our food when they vote this November,” said Stacy Malkan from the Right to Know campaign.

Just to clarify for johnlray:

Just to clarify for johnlray: Although the industry has tried to conflate genetic engineering with selective breeding or even hybridization, they are not similar. Selective breeding has been going on for millennia and is a natural process taken advantage of by people to select the traits they want to emphasize in a crop (or animal). For example, if you want a tall corn plant, you select the corn plants in your field that are tall and selectively use their seeds, or their pollen and cross it with other corn whose traits you also want to preserve.

Genetic engineering is entirely different. With modern science and technology, genes carrying a desirable trait from one species are forced into another species. For example, genetic material from a bacteria that is poisonous to caterpillars is transferred into the DNA of a plant to make that plant create its own insecticide. A bacteria and a plant were never intended to mate by nature and mix their genes. In addition, the process is chaotic and can and does have unintended side effects both for the individual exposed to the genetically modified organism and for the environment as a whole.

I'm confused about what this

I'm confused about what this is going to include. Is this going to include any food where any human had any role in the selection of future generations? Are "organic food" acolytes going to be allowed to eat any fruits or vegetables that humans have ever bred to be bigger, more nutritious, faster-growing, or heartier - that is to say, about 100% of them? Is the left's anti-science contingent going to eat bananas bigger than their thumbs, potatoes bigger than a modern green bean... heck, modern green beans? If so, they are exposing the hypocrisy of the religious faith that is the organic marketing industry.

Are they going to eat bok choi in North America? Tofu preserved by refrigeration? Clementines, or any of the relatively recently invented varieties of apples, pears, potatoes, or onions? Are they going to eat pineapples outside of Thailand? Then they are betraying their tribalistic faith in its entirety.

Be thankful your ancestors weren't so gullible as to give into the bizarre religion of smaller, less healthy, less safe, more expensive food that can only be bought in a tribalistic - excuse me, "local" - fashion. Be glad your food is filling and nutritious. Walk away from this idiotic religion. This is one of the left's most shameful and un-scientific causes and not one I can support.

Knowledge is Power. Consumer

Knowledge is Power.

Consumer Knowledge is a Threat to Corporate Power.

There is a powerful force

There is a powerful force that's getting in the way of our thriving.

It's a select group of financial elite who are centralizing material wealth and power for their own benefit, while destroying the lives of billions of others. Their worldview is riddled with fear and ignorant of the abundance of nature and interconnectedness that is our essence.

Thrive - is a free online movie that explains why our Energy, Food, Health, Rights, Education & Financial system are controlled. You can follow the money to see how the same people are gaining financially in every sector of human life. You can also see how an agenda for global domination is being accomplished, and the kind of deceptive strategies and tactics that are being used to further our suppression.

It can be challenging to confront the cruelty of this global domination agenda, but it’s only by recognizing the true nature of the threats to our freedom that we can be empowered to act effectively. Its up to US to understand & take action - together...

Right on! Also genetically

Right on!

Also genetically modified crops don't stay in their fields. Pollen is carried by insects and the wind.

Allowing these corporations to rule the nation is the very last thing we should want.

Attack of the killer

Attack of the killer tomatoes.

So HAPPY this is happening,

So HAPPY this is happening, hoping it will spread. Was reading articles on so many farms/farmers using these altered seeds just for a better yield . Amazing how much produce is GMO. When looking for yield for profit, farmers MUST look at the latent result to humans and our environment (super bugs, odd produce shapes, sterialization, intentstinal issues going up the food chain). Too many variables, not to just go organic. I recently watched a juvenille bee in one of the nurseries I visit and it did it's little dance ...but it started getting eradic with its movement till it just died. What will it take, when we ALL have to use paint brushes to pollinate, just to get FOOD to eat !

This is great news. The sad

This is great news. The sad part is that it took an initiative of the people rather than our legislature responding to the clear will of the people. Like the NY TImes said, corporate interests, like Monsanto, trumps the people every time.

It's about time! And may the

It's about time!

And may the old saying, "First California, then the nation!" be true again...

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