In November, Californians will vote on Proposition 37, an initiative to label genetically modified (GM) foods. According to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll, Californians favor GMO labeling by more than a 2-to-1 margin. However, the anti-labeling lobby has put a lot of muscle (by which we mean cash) into fighting the bill. Companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsi and the “Big Six” agrichemical companies have raised more than $32.5 million to defeat the measure.
This week Prop. 37 got an inspiring – and surprising – endorsement from Troy Roush, a conventional farmer featured in Food Inc. Roush grows GM corn and soybeans, but strongly believes that labels benefit the farmer as well as the consumer. By his reasoning, if consumers demand healthy food, farmers will grow more of it. Troy’s view is beautiful in its simplicity: it all comes down to supply, demand and transparency.
“It’s not a big deal,” he says. The industry would like voters to believe that the cost and the confusion labels would wreak havoc on food prices, but more than 50 countries already label GMOs.
Farmers are often pitted against food safety advocates and environmentalists, but it may just be that farmers and eaters have more in common than they do with the Big Six. Troy’s plea in the clip illustrates that link, and why labels will only strengthen it: “People have got to start demanding good and wholesome food of us, and we'll deliver, I promise you. We're very ingenious people. We'll deliver.”
To start at the beginning, what are Genetically Modified Organisms? GMOs have had their DNA altered in a way that doesn’t happen naturally. Individual genes are transferred from one organism to another to obtain a desired trait or characterist