Vote Yes on 37: Take a Stand on GMOs in California
Access to organically-grown food is one of the most vital concerns for anyone following the Gerson Therapy. Without a steady and voluminous supply of organically-grown fruits and vegetables, the Gerson Therapy is impossible.
Unfortunately, foods with genetically modified ingredients are growing ever-more ubiquitous. Even foods labeled as “natural” can contain ingredients that are anything but!
This year, there is a proposition on the California state ballot that would protect the consumer’s right to know what’s in their food. Prop 37 would require that all foods containing genetically-modified ingredients be clearly labeled, so consumers can make informed choices about the food they eat.
What are GMOs? Why Should We Care?
Genetically engineered foods are not found in nature. They are plants or meat products that have been genetically altered, usually by splicing or replacing some of their genes with DNA from other plants, animals, or even bacteria or viruses. These kinds of genetic engineering and gene splicing differ from cross-pollination or traditional crossbreeding, as this kind of genetic modification can only be done in a lab, not in nature.
Some GMO foods are bred to withstand large amounts of pesticides and herbicides, most famously, “Roundup-Ready” crops that are resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicides. Others, like some types of GMO corn, produce their own pesticides.
A large percentage of the foods in our grocery stores are made and processed with GMOs. Soy, corn, canola, sugar beets are the most commonly genetically modified foods. Those GM crops are found in many foods, even ones you might not expect. You may recognize these GM ingredients under different names such as high fructose corn syrup, hydrolyzed soy protein, soy lecithin, canola oil, vegetable protein, among many others.
But, since those GM ingredients are not labeled as such, the consumer has no way of knowing whether or not they come from genetically modified crops.
Check out this infographic below for some more quick facts on GMOs.
Click the image to enlarge. (Infographic found here).
So GMOs keep bugs and weeds away. What’s the big deal?
Genetically modified foods have not been proven safe — the US Food and Drug Administration does not require safety studies for genetically engineered foods. The pesticides used on GM crops are much stronger, and more potentially hazardous. There is growing evidence and concerns that GMOs are unhealthy for both humans and the environment. The dangers of GMOs recently made headlines worldwide, when a French study of mice fed exclusively GMO foods developed cancer at a much higher rate and at younger ages than mice fed organically grown foods.
A growing number of studies show that consumption of genetically modified foods can have significant health hazards:
- Changes in liver, pancreas and testes function
- Enzyme function disturbances in kidney and heart
- Alterations in blood biochemistry
- Stomach lesions
- Allergic responses and inflammation
- Changes in gut bacteria
These studies, conducted on animals, were only short-term studies; longer-term studies which would have identified chronic or permanent damage were not conducted. Nor have there been clinical studies on the effects of GMOs on humans.
Genetically modified crops cause the following environmental concerns as well:
- An overall increase in pesticide use
- The contamination of organic and non-GMO crops.
- The emergence of super weeds that are resistant to the pesticides in or used on GM crops. These super weeds threaten millions of acres of farmland across the country.
- The unintentional contamination of non-GMO and organic crops from natural cross-pollination.
Several countries in Europe have established GMO labeling laws, and others have banned GMOs outright.
What is Prop 37? What Will It Do?
Prop 37 would require all foods sold in the state of California that contain GM ingredients to be labeled. This gives consumers necessary information about the contents of their food, so they can make educated choices, especially if they want to avoid GMOs.
Prop 37 would:
- Require clear labels on all foods containing genetically modified ingredients.
- Prohibit foods containing GM ingredients from advertising themselves as “natural.”
- Give companies 18 months to change their labels
- Allow for the GMO disclosure to appear wherever they choose on food packaging.
Prop 37 does not ban the sales of GM foods, but it is a step in the right direction. Demanding transparency from food producers will give consumers the opportunity to decide whether they want genetically modified foods on their plates and, in turn, on their supermarket shelves.
Companies change their labels and packaging all the time, so it will not be costly for them to make one small change on their labels. Research shows that GMO labeling will cause no additional cost to manufacturers or consumers. However, because it is unlikely that many food suppliers would want to print separate labels for the products they sell in the state of California, the labeled products will most likely make their way to supermarket shelves across the country, to the benefit of consumers outside of California.
So Who Opposes Prop 37? And WHY?
I personally have yet to meet a real, live person who objects to GMO labeling. Even people who are generally apathetic to the issues surrounding GMOs don’t mind the idea of having the ingredients of their food properly labeled. Food producers are already required to list their ingredients; Prop 37 just requires a small but vital clarification on what that ingredient list means. It’s common sense, and does no harm to the consumer.
The primary opponents of Prop 37 are the companies that produce GMO foods and junk foods, in particular chemical giants Monsanto and DuPont. There are virtually no individual financial contributions to the opposition to Prop 37; in fact, polls show that 90% of all Americans support GMO labeling.
However, these huge corporations have far more money to pour in to advertising their opposition to Prop 37. There is a great deal of grassroot support for Prop 37, but unfortunately the majority of TV ads run about the proposition are attack ads.
Prop 37 does NOT prevent genetically modified foods from being produced or sold. We don’t pretend that this is the solution to the problem of GMOs. However, indications are that consumers will become educated on the associated issues only if they are given notice and the opportunity to make a choice. This is exactly what Prop 37’s opponents do not want – to let the marketplace decide.
Take Action: Vote YES on Prop 37!
So, on Tuesday, November 6th, we encourage every Californian to go out and vote YES on Prop 37.
If you do not live in California, but have friends or family in the state, please share this information with them, and encourage them to vote on this vital issue. Though only California voters can vote on this particular ballot proposition, the more people around the country are educated on this issue, the more likely this movement will take hold nationwide.
The Gerson Institute takes a strong stance against GMOs, and you can even find our name on the list of organizations endorsing Proposition 37 here.
For more information about Prop 37, please visit http://www.carighttoknow.org
About the Authors
Lynne Bacaj is the Event Coordinator at the Gerson Institute, responsible for planning and executing the Gerson Basics Workshops, Module I Program for Licensed Health Professionals, and other events during the year. She serves as Master of Ceremonies at each. Gerson has become quite the family affair for the Bacajs; two of her three children also work at the Institute (see below!). She spends part of her free time barefoot running through canyons.
Ally Bacaj is the Gerson Institute’s Communications Specialist. Ally manages the design and content of our website, and writes, edits and collects contributions for our blog. She also uses social media to share the Gerson message and posts the latest news on our Facebook and Twitter. In her spare time, Ally likes exploring thrift stores, seeing live music and suspects that she might be starting to enjoy running.