Proposition 37 in California is the best thing to happen in the food world in ages. The problem is that the ballot initiative is about 15 years too late.
Labeling food has always been a starter for BalanceofFood.com. We should know what is in our food and every word on a label should be true and free of deception.
When genetically modified food first hit the market, people did try to get GMO foods labeled. Of course, FDA, Monsanto, etc. also said they were no problem. The problem is that we've been eating GMO food for almost a generation.
If the argument rested on whether we are better off with GMO foods, this would be a slam dunk. GMO foods offer zero benefits: health, nutrition, taste.
GMOs were supposed to protect plants in the growing process, but we are now seeing tougher weeds.
High-fructose corn syrup, now made with GMO corn, also doesn't offer any benefits or advantages to the consumer. Trying to make a dent in the use of high-fructose corn syrup took almost 30 years.
GMO foods suffer from being even more obscure topic than high-fructose corn syrup. Yes, the lefties have been concerned about GMOs long before Day 1 got here, but nary a peep outside that group for a long time.
Our society works in a conservative (small c) way when it comes to food in our system. You can monkey around with the system as much as you want, but if you are going to take something out, the mountain of proof better be pretty high.
The major drawback is trying to explain to consumers why they should label genetically modified foods. When food A causes symptom B, going after food A is rather easy. Pro-labeling advocates have had a more difficult time explaining to average consumers why GMO labeling is crucial.
GMOs are linked to allergies, organ toxicity, and other health problems, but the problem is tying them directly to GMOs. To be fair, some of the problems come from the fact that so little testing was done before GMOs were introduced. So much is still unknown.
The major argument is that full disclosure is great. 50 countries and more than 40% of the Earth require the labeling. You would feel better eating the food in Europe, Japan, and India and other places where you have GMO labeling.
Proposition 37 got some early support, though that support dropped thanks to a barrage of ads from companies such as Monsanto. The one advantage the pro-labeling people is that is that unlike the scenario with Prop 8 (gay marriage), they need "yes" votes instead of voting "no" for their side to win. Average consumers react better when having to vote in the affirmative to make change.
Proposition 37 has the potential to make a major change. Food companies aren't going to make separate labels for the Golden State. And food companies aren't looking forward to posting a GMO label on their food products.
If nothing else, think about voting for Proposition 37 because of the opponents to the law. I found an anti-Prop-37 Web site that noted the estimated cost to the average California family would be $400 higher in grocery costs.
You would pay some or all of that $400 if you continued to buy GMO food. After all, the food with the regular labels wouldn't go up since you don't have new labels to put on packaging. Perhaps they are talking about the extra cost to make GMO-free food. You can make back that $400 by feeling better. Plus the more fresh food you buy, the smaller that increase would be.
The Bottom Line
If Proposition 37 is passed on November 6, there will be an 18-month window for companies to comply with the new labeling. Products with GMO foods can still be sold in California; the difference is that consumers can read the label and decide which product to buy.
Advocates realize this isn't just about California. The law is designed to force companies to label food coast-to-coast as GMOs to reduce their labeling costs. And they hope that companies would rather dump GMOs and not have to go through the hassle.
If GMOs make your life so much better, let people see what they buying, and let them decide whether they think GMOs improve their lives.