How I wish I lived in California right now. Not because as a Utahn I often fall prey to food envy, thinking of those lucky Californians with their oh-so-delicious produce, unfettered access to a plush supply of seasonal, local foods, or even the ridiculous ease with which they can savor delicious organic or vegan foods at every street corner. That’s all still true-but the reason I am so envious of Californians now is because on November 6th, Californians are poised to decide the “food fate” of America when they vote on Proposition 37, which would require labeling of GMOs on food labels (Prop 37).
We Have a Right to Know. Over 90% of Americans favor labeling of GMOs, one of the widest majorities of any food issue in history. As a health professional, a mother, and an American, I believe everyone deserves the right to decide for themselves whether whether or not buy foods containing GMOs. And NOW is our time to speak up.
Let’s not let Monsanto shape the conversation for us, or lead us down murky, sidetracking debates about safety, “a nanny state”, or increased costs to consumers. I just want a food label, so I can decide for myself. It’s that simple. But then again, it’s not. The food industry has spent tens of of millions of dollars fighting to convince Americans there’s no need for labeling; they understand that as California goes, so goes America, as Mark Bittman blogged about recently here. It’s a power struggle that is poised to shape the food landscape in America for decades to come.
Yet fresh questions about safety arose earlier this month when a newly published study in Food and Chemical Toxicology, the first ever peer reviewed long term study, looked at the effects of consuming GMO corn over time-and found it linked to significantly higher rates of tumors, organ damage, and premature death in rats. The study’s findings, while only one piece of data in the entire GMO story, nonetheless raises significant concerns, and at the very least reminds us that we are still learning the impacts of a food technology that’s only been around for 15 years. In fact, the results were alarming enough that this week Russia announced it’s banning GMOs. Russia now joins 50 countries around the world that require labeling-but the U.S. is not one of them.
“Choice is a Good Thing” The food industry has been reciting this mantra for decades. Choice in labeling is a good thing, too. If Prop 37 is approved, it will have a powerful ripple effect in cleaning up our food supply-lets let consumers decide with the power of the purse whether they want GMOs in their foods or not. Food advocate Robyn O’Brien summed up perfectly what’s at stake for all of us when she wrote:
“We have a right to independent, long-term studies that examine what the impact of these novel technologies and manufactured chemicals might be on the health of our loved ones, our pregnancies and our children, we have the right to know how our food is produced, and like 50 countries around theworld, we have the right to labels on these genetically engineered ingredients, so that as mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, as Americans, we can make an informed choice when it comes to feeding our loved ones. “
California, now’s our chance. Let’s take it!
What You Can Do to Stay GMO Free:
- Buy foods bearing the USDA Organic Certified label
- Look for foods with the Non GMO Project Verified Label (see right)
Posted with assistance from Lindsey Toth, MS, RD