All our efforts have paid off, but this is only the beginning of the fight. In November, Californians will get to vote on whether or not genetically modified foods must be labeled in their state. This spring the California Right to Know (GMO) initiative effort collected 971,126 signatures in support of the measure, almost twice the number needed to qualify for November’s ballot. A broad coalition of organizations came together to launch this statewide referendum that will require that any genetically modified foods, or products containing genetically modified ingredients, be labeled in the marketplace.
Who worked for this? Volunteers fanned out across the state. We are gardeners, organic farmers, health professionals, scientists, parents and regular people who are concerned about the inevitable consequences when ‘Frankenfoods’ are released into the food chain and into the environment. The public support for the labeling movement is enormous, even in this divisive political year. A National poll taken by the Mellman Group found that 91% of Americans favor labeling of GMO foods. (see website http://www.labelgmos.org/)
But it’s not over yet. We still need to win in November. GMO seeds and their companion chemicals are big business and those corporate interests aren’t going to go away without a fight. Already, the storm clouds are on the horizon. Despite overwhelming public support, every similar measure across the country has been defeated in the last weeks before the vote, flooded with corporate money and disturbingly inaccurate PR. They paint us as anti-farmer! The nerve! Just watch the airwaves; we will be inundated with the tragic tales of farmers who need GMOs to get by. We’ll be told that GMO technology is essential to feeding the world. We’ve heard it all before. This initiative isn’t anti-farmer. It doesn’t ban GMO products. If farmers and food producers want to grow and use these products in our food, they just need to tell us. This bill is about transparency and our right, as consumers, to know what we’re eating. We’ve proven with other food labeling that consumers use the information on those labels, and that providing that information isn’t prohibitively expensive to producers. When we win, California will be the first state to successfully protect its consumers’ right to know.
This country was founded on the idea that, in the marketplace of ideas, the best will rise to the top. For that to work, we, as voters and as consumers, need to have the information to make our own decisions. That’s what labeling is about. It’ll be a big fight, but I think we’re up to it. Almost a million people signed the petition. If you believe in this, talk about it, tell your friends, volunteer. I can’t imagine any good reason why labeling isn’t a good idea. After all, if what they’re pandering isn’t sinister, why are they afraid to tell us what’s in it?