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Proposed Initiative Would Require New Food Labels

Aired 3/9/12 on KPBS News.

Signature gathering is underway for a measure that would place labeling requirements on food that is genetically engineered. Its supporters are aiming for the November ballot and opposition is already gearing up.

The "California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act" would require labels identifying genetically engineered foods starting in 2014. Foods containing some G-E ingredients would also be labeled.

The initiative's Co-Chair Grant Lundberg said this technology isn't fully understood-and consumers should know when it's present. "It's about choice and concerns of consumers," said Lundberg.

But the California Farm Bureau Federation's Cynthia Cory said consumers can already buy certified organic products if they are concerned. She feels genetic engineering is safe and the proposed initiative is unhelpful, stating "It's misleading and confusing and so it scares people."

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Avatar for user 'DaleProp37'

DaleProp37 | August 4, 2012 at 8:24 p.m. ― 4 years, 6 months ago

I believe we have the right to know what’s in the food we’re eating and feeding to our families – we deserve an informed choice.

Genetically Engineered foods (GMOs) are not tested for long term impacts on human health; I think it is unethical to be putting an experimental technology into the food we feed our families.

Nearly 50 countries require labels on Genetically Engineered food, and many of these also have severe restrictions or bans against GMO food production or sale. Countries with mandatory labeling include Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, Russia and all of the countries in the European Union. Some of the countries with severe restrictions or bans against GMO food production or sale are Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Ireland, the Philippines, Australia, Peru and Japan. The U.S. and Canada are two of the only developed nations in the world without GMO labeling. We deserve the same level of protection and information as citizens in other nations around the world.

Not everyone agrees with the idea that California consumers should have the right to know what’s in our food. Certain corporate interests – primarily Monsanto and other multi-national chemical companies as well as major food and beverage manufactures – reap huge profits from the lack of transparency in our food system. Millions of dollars are spent lobbying our elected officials to keep all Americans in the dark about Genetically Engineered food. Opponents of Proposition 37 will spend tens of millions on media ads to deceive California voters in an attempt to deny us our right to know what’s in our food.

Proposition 37 (The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act) simply requires a label on packaged foods if the food contains ingredients that are genetically modified. Packaged foods already have labels showing nutrition, allergy information and other facts consumers want to know. This measure only requires a few words to be added to the label and will not add cost to food producers or consumers.
The most common GMOs are soy, cotton, canola, corn, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, alfalfa, and squash (zucchini and yellow). GMOs may be hidden in common processed food ingredients such as: Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins and Yeast Products.

Proposition 37 will make it easier for consumers to know if the food they buy contains GMOs without having to read through a long list of unfamiliar ingredients.

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