Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Short Subjects: GMO or Non-GMO? That is the Question.

On November 6, besides helping to elect the next president of the US, voters in California will consider a proposition which has been denied to residents of other states. They will have the opportunity to vote on an initiative requiring labeling of all genetically modified food sold in grocery stores in their state. 

If Proposition 37 passes, California will become the first state in the nation to require labels on genetically engineered food. The lobbying for and against the measure has heated up drastically over the last few weeks. The San Jose Mercury News reported that as of Thursday, August 23, proponents had raised $2.8 million, donated by individuals as well as organic businesses including Nature’s Path and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. Opponents had succeeded in raising nearly $25 million. 

It should be no surprise that Monsanto is the largest single contributor to the opposition,  with a donation of $4.2 million. It was Monsanto’s threat to sue the state of Connecticut that caused the portion of  CT-HB5117 requiring labeling of GMO foods to be withdrawn. 

Other large and well-known corporations have joined Monsanto in opposing Prop 37. This pie chart clearly shows who they are and how much they have contributed to the war chest.

But what may surprise you is some of the ‘organic’ brands owned by Prop 37 opponents. The Cornucopia Institute clearly spells out the opposition and the companies they own, and what companies support the measure. 

The Organic Consumers Association is asking consumers to boycott brands owned by the opposition, and to go to their Facebook pages and consumer response lines to call them out.

This is no small request. Many of my grocery cart items are on the left hand side of this chart. I haven’t yet decided whether or not I can forgo them all. But it’s food for thought, and I’ve started in on the comments already – first one just sent off to Honest Tea.

In 2008 California passed Proposition 2, which prohibited the close confinement of farm animals in crates, so there is hope that this measure, too, might pass. Passage of CA Prop 37 could pave the way for passage of similar measures in the 19 other states with proposed GMO labeling. 

If you believe in the consumer’s right to know, here’s a chance to “Vote with your fork [or spoon or straw or bowl]. 

Why Saturday Short Subjects? Some readers may recall  being dropped at the movie theater for the Saturday matinee — two action-packed feature films with a series of short subjects (cartoons or short movies, sometimes a serial cliffhanger) sandwiched in between. Often the short subjects were the most memorable, and enjoyable, part of the morning. That explains the name. The reason behind these particular posts is that we are all short on time. My Short Subject posts should not take me as long to write or you as long to read (or try).

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