The food fight is still on and whether you’re a California resident or simply a concerned citizen, you’ll want to stay tuned in to this Proposition 37 ordeal. Here’s the skinny on what’s going on with our food industry: currently, federal law does not regulate the use of genetically modified organisms in food which makeup around 80 percent of food produced and packaged in America. If you recall the conversation we had about genetically modified foods the ongoing debate in support of the California proposition 37 is calling for government action that will force food manufacturers to label genetically engineered foods.
Opponents to Proposition 37 say that the new law would become overly cumbersome and will lead to higher grocery bills. Buying organic is the only way that consumers can know that their food products are not made with GMOs.
Just a few days away from the November 6th election, if the proposition is passed, manufacturers will be required by law to label any foods containing genetically engineered ingredients in order to sell in California. Fox News writer Jayson Lusk suggests that because California is such a large consumer of agricultural products grown in the rest of the US and because food manufacturers work across state lines, the implications (and costs) of Proposition 37 could expand beyond the borders of California.
Mandatory labeling in California will also inhibit the use of the word “natural” –- which has no legal definition — currently abused and misused by many manufacturers whose products are on the shelves.
Stacy Malkan, a longtime advocate for environmental health and spokesperson for the Yes on 37 California Right to Know campaign, argues that genetically engineered food has been hidden from consumers for over 20 years and is in everything from baby formula to instant coffee. In an interview with the independent global news source Democracy Now, Malkan believes that the proposition will affect industry labeling practices across the country as more consumers become aware of what’s really in their food.
According to Malkan, Proposition 37 is being supported both locally and nationally by state-to-state environmental, health and consumer groups who are concerned about the long-term health implications of genetically engineered foods that have yet to be studied or evaluated.
Major food retailer Whole Foods has also taken a stand against GMOs by supporting Proposition 37 and investing in a third-party non-GMO verification system for their in-house products recognized as their 365 brand. A leader in the natural and organic food and personal care industry with over 310 stores throughout the country and $10 billion in sales in 2011, Whole Foods’ stance on clearing out GMOs to support consumer demand could possibly influence other retailers nation-wide to eliminate GMO products in order to compete.
Labeling will become an educational tool that allows us as consumers to have the choice in how we decide to participate in our country’s food system. Regulation won’t start and end with California. Proposition 37, if passed, will go into effect by as early as 2014, and will most likely induce a widespread call for regulation in all states.
What is your stance on Proposition 37?