No More Hidden GMOs
California voters face a food-protection milestone this November when Proposition 37, a citizens’ initiative, appears on their ballots. If it passes, California will be the first state to require labeling of a wide range of foods containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.
Determined to defeat this first-ever initiative, some of the nation’s largest biotech and agribusiness companies have poured millions of dollars into negative advertising. Even more alarming is that much of the money comes from sources most shoppers would not suspect. “Consumers might be surprised to find out that brands hiding under ‘natural’ façades are in fact owned by multi-billiondollar corporations that are contributing bushel baskets of cash to defeating Proposition 37,” says Charlotte Vallaeys, director of Farm and Food Policy at The Cornucopia Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting sustainable, organic agriculture via research, investigation and education.
According to Cornucopia, recent polls indicate that nearly 70 percent of California citizens support informational labeling. Proponents of Proposition 37 have contributed $3 million—a number dwarfed by the $23 million bursting from biotech and food manufacturer coffers to fight the measure.
The California vote is crucial because many companies will find it more expensive to produce foods with GE labels for California while creating a different product line of foods for the rest of the nation. “Just as we’ve observed in Europe, where labeling of food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is mandatory, we fully expect that when given a choice, consumers will choose organic or non-GMO products,” said Cornucopia Co-Director Mark A. Kastel.
To help consumers identify and support organic brands whose corporate owners have contributed to Proposition 37 and avoid product lines committed to its defeat, Cornucopia has compiled an online guide and is sponsoring a petition.