GMO labeling campaign says it’s ballot-bound

Activists say they’ll submit more than enough signatures tomorrow to put on November’s ballot California’s first measure to require labeling of genetically engineered food.

The California Right to Know campaign is planning victory rallies at 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 2 in San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego as mothers deliver the petitions in strollers, representing this issue’s importance to future generations.

A genetically engineered food is a plant or meat product that has had its DNA artificially altered by genes from other plants, animals, viruses or bacteria; for example, much of the U.S. corn and soy crops are genetically engineered to produce their own pesticide or withstand high doses of weed killer. Europe plus Japan and China already have laws requiring labeling of foods containing GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

“Unlike the strict safety evaluations required for the approval of new drugs, the safety of genetically engineered foods for human consumption is not adequately tested,” the campaign’s website says. “Studies show that genetically engineering food can create new, unintended toxicants and increase allergens, and other health problems. Experts around the world agree that by labeling genetically engineered food, we can help identify any adverse health reactions that these foods may cause.”

The campaign has been funded in large part so far by natural products companies including Mercola.com Health Resources, Nature’s Path Foods USA Inc., Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps All-One-God-Faith Inc., and Wehah Farm Inc.

The proposed measure is opposed by the Coalition Against the Costly Food Labeling Proposition, which is funded so far by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Council for Biotechnology Information but also includes the California Chamber of Commerce, California Retailers Association and the California Farm Bureau Federation. The coalition says the measure would ban the sale of tens of thousands of common, safe products unless they’re specially repackaged just for California.

“This measure isn’t about the ‘right to know’, it’s about the right to sue,” California Retailers Association President and CEO Bill Dombrowski said in a recent news release. “It creates a whole new category of lawsuits that will allow lawyers to get rich by suing small family farmers, grocers, retailers and other businesses. We’ll all pay for these frivolous lawsuits through higher costs at the checkout stand.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Another load of manmade crap dumped on the Golden State by pseudo-scientists, cranks and aging hippies.

  • Truthclubber

    @1 — You’re completely right — a load of GMO produce is a load of manmade crap which is why some of us do NOT want it dumped on the Golden State.

    I suspect that the same lot of “pseudo-scientists, cranks and aging hippies” that are fighting this battle are cast from the same mold as those who fought several decades ago for stricter air quality standards — you know, those pesky things that forced California to have higher emission standards than the rest of the US, and forced the rest of the states to adopt the same higher (and healthier) emission standards.

    I swear, where would this country’s air and water quality be without all of those aging hippies getting in the way of good old fashioned, uncontrolled kapitalism?

    Perhaps here?

  • American Citizen

    Thank you, Truthclubber!

    The term, “pseudo scientist” best applies to those corporate biotechnology TECHNICIANS who create these bizarre GMOs without the rigorous testing needed for these fundamentally unneeded corporate food imitations.

    Boulder County has been victimized by local “pseudo scientists” and local “pseudo professors” for years. These frauds come to public meetings and are much less informed in all too many ways than many Boulder County residents! It is at once laughable and tragic to watch these hacks cite Monsanto propaganda.

    Many believe these frauds are working hard for big biotechnology.

    Dear California:

    Please beware.

    Please keep watch of the pseudo scientists and pseudo academics working for the biotechnology industry. They need to be confronted with hard facts, hard figures, and relevant questions about GMO “technology.” You–and the American people–need to know everything about the background of these pro-GMO people. We need to know EVERYTHING about their corporate connections and scientific integrity–or lack thereof.

    We understand that at least one public relations firm (or more honestly, propaganda firm) in Sacramento has been contacted to do the usual biotech misinformation dirty work. Just what are they up to? Confront any and all misinformation!

    Who are the individuals and what are the institutions which might be most easily influenced and corrupted by big biotech?

    Are all publishers and editors of the major newspapers, magazines, and journals in California absolutely free of biotechnology corruption? How about the Sacramento Bee?

    It is our right, duty, and responsibility to question all individuals and institutions who might be susceptible to corruption.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Thank you Luddites! No one, anywhere, has become gravely ill, let alone dead, from a GMO. No one is stopping you from growing your own veggies.

  • Truthclubber

    @3 — I do what I can.

    @4 — And no one is stopping you from allowing me to choose for myself, in an informed way what goes onto my family’s dinner plate — unless you want that kind of communistic control over what I buy.

    Please let me know if that’s what you intend — that YOU force me to buy only what YOU and “Big Food” deem worthy for me to buy.

  • Elwood

    Genetic modification of foods has gone on for decades at the least.

    It just took longer through selective breeding.