If approved, a new ballot initiative in California could turn the tide against genetically modified foods in America.
“If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it,” said Norman Braksick, president of Asgrow Seed Co., a subsidiary of Monsanto to the Kansas City Star on March 7, 1994. Since then, agribusiness seed giants have done an excellent job keeping consumers in the dark about the negative health and environmental impacts of genetically modified foods—unfortunately with the help of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration. The government agencies have adopted a pro-corporate position and determined that labeling GM foods would create the "false" impression that "the labeled food is in some way different from other foods."
Amid mounting evidence that GM foods indeed are very different from other foods, some California residents are taking the labeling issue into their own hands. If passed, a new state ballot initiative—launched this week—could knock the biotech industry on its keester. Working with the Organic Consumers Association, residents are asking California to require the labeling of all GM foods and foods containing GM ingredients.
According to a study conducted by the Consumers Union, 95 percent of respondents believe genetically engineered products should be labeled. A GM label would help shoppers actively avoid these foods, and, because it would be costly for manufacturers to source and package products strictly for California customers, if passed the measure could lead to fewer GM products across the country.
To get the initiative on the November 2012 ballot, residents must collect 504,760 signatures by March of 2012. If you live in California, I urge you to take part. It's become clear that we can't rely on our government agencies to stand up to the deep-pocketed biotech industry, it's going to take a concerted and organized citizens effort.