This month, the California 2012 Campaign to Label Genetically Modified Organisms is officially swinging into action. A fleet of devoted volunteers will begin gathering the 800,000 signatures needed to get the initiative on the 2012 ballot soon after Valentine’s Day. You can join them.
To get involved
If you live in the Southern Humboldt area, come to Calico’s in Garberville on Feb. 21. You will find them upstairs, training signature gatherers and passing out the petitions to the volunteers.
No matter where you are in California, if you are inspired to help make labeling GMOs a reality, please visit them online at http://labelgmos.org/. This is a central place where you can contact your local group and get trained to gather signatures.
Why should you care about labeling GMOs?
GMO foods are the result of an entirely new technology that forces genes from one species into a plant or animal from another species. A more recent version of genetic engineering involves insertion of genes from the same species into host cells.
Though biotechnology companies tout their products as the answer to everything from malnutrition, to global warming, to famine the reality is that the products they rush onto the market are an answer to none of these things. Primarily, they are engineered to withstand heavy doses of pesticides and herbicides manufactured by these same companies and sold as a bundled product: buy the seed, buy the herbicide. Repeat next year. No seed saving allowed.
Polls consistently show that more than 90 percent of the public wants labels on genetically engineered foods. Government scientists have stated that the artificial insertion of DNA into host plants can increase the levels of known toxicants in foods, introduce new toxicants or new allergens, and even reduce the nutritional value of foods. The level of uncertainty surrounding the safety of genetically engineered foods has led the American Academy of Environmental Medicine to recommend that physicians prescribe a GMO-free diet to all their patients.
Foods grown from genetically modified seeds have been observed to cause toxic and allergic reactions in animals consuming them. Longer term feeding studies found infertility, stunted growth, and high infant mortality in lab animals. In a short term human feeding study, the GM protein in Roundup Ready soy was found to insert itself into the DNA of the gut flora and remain there indefinitely. Digestion only goes smoothly when the proper bacterial balance is present in the gut. What are the long-term consequences of changing the DNA of our intestinal flora?
What use is labeling?
In the 150 countries around the world where labeling is required, including the European Union, Japan and China, GMO products are in less than five percent of the food in grocery stores. In the US, which seems to be the last stronghold for these companies, a conservative estimate is that GMOs contaminate 80% or more of the food eaten every day. Currently, the only way to avoid GMOs is to buy exclusively organic products. Labeling would change this.
It is important to understand that only mandatory labeling will allow consumers to vote with their wallets. Consumer choice is the most powerful force in a capitalist system, if harnessed and focused toward a desired outcome. Ninety percent of consumers say they wouldn’t eat GMO foods if given the choice. In Europe and other countries where GMOs are regulated, this consumer choice has dictated that less than five percent of the food for sale is GMO. We can do this here. Join them to make labeling GMOs a reality in California.