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.”