In November, California voters will decide whether or not retailers will be required to label foods made from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The choice they make on Proposition 37 will have ramifications for the future of food across the United States.
In one corner of the ring are corporations with deep pockets and a stake in maintaining the non-labeling status quo: Monsanto, a manufacturer of GMO corn and soybeans; Dupont, which makes pesticide and herbicides; and companies like Coca Cola, Pepsi, and General Mills, all heavily reliant upon GMO crops.
On the other corner are small organic farmers, environmental organizations, and a grassroots army of thousands of volunteers. It’s Big Ag versus the people of California.
So what’s the big deal with GMOs? The debate over the harms or lack thereof associated with these crops could occupy an article ten times the length of this one, but a few key points are worth repeating. Genetically modified organisms aren’t just wheat with a few tweaks. Some of the “modifications” seem straight out of a science-fiction nightmare, like Monsanto’s GMO sweet corn. Spliced into the genome of this plant is bacterial DNA that causes it to produce its own insect-killing poisons. The safety of these products is questionable because no testing has been done to determine what happens when these mutant foods enter the human body. And the effects we do know about aren’t encouraging. Increasing numbers of peer-reviewed studies show clear-cut health risks associated with GMO products, including allergic reactions.
Previous attempts to label foods that contain GMOs in ...