Why You Should Care about Prop 37 (GMO Labeling) in California

by Melissa Diane Smith

Ninety percent of Americans want foods that are genetically modified labeled. Yet efforts to pass GMO (genetically modified organism) labeling bills in 20 different states have been unsuccessful, either because politicians have been making the decisions or because corporations that make genetically modified seeds such as Monsanto have threatened to sue states such as Vermont if they passed the bills. In other words, what the American people want hasn’t been carried out so far.

But the California GMO Labeling Ballot Initiative, known as Proposition 37, could completely change that. It is a citizens’ initiative started by a citizen and put on the ballot by close to a million citizens’ signatures. Plus, this attempt at GMO labeling will be voted upon and decided by voters, not by politicians. The historic vote by the people of California will take place on November 6th this year. If it passes – and polls show the numbers of people in the state who want it are overwhelmingly high – it would likely automatically lead to labeling in the rest of the country. That’s because California has the eighth largest economy in the world, and experts say it is unlikely for any company that sells products nationally to have two separate labels – one for California, and one for the rest of the country.

Labeling is important not just because it gives consumers the information they need to make informed choices, much like the labeling of food allergens does. It’s also critical for health professionals to be able to track the health effects of eating genetically modified (GM) foods and for lawyers to be able to hold corporations that make GM foods liable for any ill effects, says Andrew Kimbrell, a lawyer and author of Your Right to Know.

To learn more about why this initiative is so important, visit the California Right to Know website and check out these articles:

Vanguard state: California might just lead the way in GMO labeling

How California could force the Rest of the US to Label GMO Foods

The case for mandatory GMO labeling

Many voters in California will be voting by mail early, so be sure also to spread the word to your friends and family members in California as quickly as you can about brand new movie, Genetic Roulette, which they can watch online for a small donation, and about the definitive report, “GMO Myths and Truths,” which I summarized at the bottom of this post. Make sure that they know that a yes vote will lead to clear labels on genetically modified foods and a greater ability for all of us to make informed grocery shopping choices.

This is the United States of America. It’s time we had the same right to make informed choices about the foods we buy as 50 other countries already have. Passing Proposition 37 in California is our best shot to make that happen.

Copyright © 2012 Melissa Diane Smith

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