In just a few days California will vote on Proposition 37, the Right to Know initiative that would require the labeling of all genetically modified foods. Controversy surrounding the measure extends far beyond California, as GMOs remain a contentious topic around the globe, and a yes vote could impact policy across the nation. As of this week, a number of multinational food corporations and industry groups (including Coca-Cola, Pepsi and the “Big Six” agrichemical companies) have spent a whopping $44 million opposing the initiative, dwarfing the pro-labeling contingent which has raised a still impressive $7 million (check out this great pieceby Mark Bittman, which sums up the situation nicely). A September poll showed that 67 percent of California’s voters supported the measure, but that was before the food industry began their massive ad campaign, which claims labeling would unnecessarily confuse and frighten consumers. The pro-labeling side focuses on consumers' rights and transparency. Some conventional farmers and genetic engineers have come out in favor of labeling for this reason. More than 50 countries already label GMOs, and next Tuesday we will find out if America joins their ranks or, as Animal Welfare Approved director Andrew Gunther says, remain mushrooms (eating sh*t in the dark). With so much information circling regarding the nature of GMOs, it’s important to stay informed and know the facts. Here is a roundup of recent GMO news and resources.
- Seven Things to Tell Your Friends About GMOs: Did you know that GMOs have never undergone standard testing or regulation for human safety? Or that they undermine our food security? This and more in this piece by Anna and Frances Moore Lappe.
- LA City Council Unanimously Endorses Yes on 37
- Pesticide Use Ramping Up as GMO Crop Technology Backfires: A new study out of the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University reveals that GM crops have led to an increase in overall pesticide use by 404 million pounds since they were introduced in 1996. GM crop technologies have caused a rise of superweeds and superbugs, and therefore farmers use more hazardous pesticides to combat them.
- Americans Eat Their Weight in Genetically Engineered Food: Americans eat an average of 193 pounds of genetically engineered food per year. The average American adult weighs 179 pounds, so many of us are literally eating more than our weight in frankenfoods.
- GMO Crop Planting In National Wildlife Refuges Rejected By US Judge: A US District Judge has ruled that until an environmental analysis is done, no one can plant genetically modified crops in National Wildlife Refuges.
- Vote for the Dinner Party: Michael Pollan discusses how this year is the food movement’s moment of truth as it finally enters the political sphere.
- Chefs Back Measure on Labeling GMOs: More than 700 of the nation’s most prominent chefs and foodies including Alice Waters, Bryant Terry and Dan Barber have come out in support of Prop 37.