This coming Tuesday, April 1st, 2014, 9:30am in Room 113, the California Senate Agriculture Committee will be voting on SB-1381 (Evans): whether or not to require labeling of genetically-modified (GMO) food products for sale to eat in California. TO CONTACT THE SENATORS IMMEDIATELY, PLEASE SCROLL DOWN.
This is a basic consumer rights issue, which encompasses all political beliefs and all economic groups.
As this ABC poll suggests, and poll after poll agrees, 93% of U.S. consumers are in support of labeling genetically-modified foods of any kind:
Companies which produce GMO foods do not want their foods labeled as such because they know consumers will avoid their products. In a pure market economy, consumers must have all the facts at their disposal to make informed choices in order to purchase (and therefore approve) the products they want to use. If a product is deemed defective, it will not be purchased by consumers and it will be removed from shelves. Why then, in our supposed “free market economy,” is there any question about labeling GMO products whatsoever? The answer: corporate money polluting our politics. Period.
With genetic engineering, without much Democratic decision-making at all, a few companies and scientists are trying to change the permanent genetic makeup of all life, life that was made either through divine intervention or through millions of years of evolution. Either way, we have no right – simply for profit, or for research – to change them fundamentally. Regardless of how far we humans have evolved, we are not, ourselves, Gods, and we do not truly understand “life” the same way we understand machines.
With the unchecked spread of genetically-modified soy and corn, a large unscientific experiment is taking place: people and animals are already eating GMO food and feed and we don’t truly know what effects these will have on any organism over the long-term. No long-term study has been conducted; no results published to be refuted. And if the whole of the U.S. population is being exposed to it, there is no control group.
Since probably 95% of all competent scientists in the field of genetic engineering are working for the side of GMO producers and only 5% are truly independent, the USDA and the FDA are generally approving genetically-modified crops and foods based mainly on science provided by companies who will profit from their sale. That means we have a very serious scientific problem in relation to our food, our most important issue, which trickles down into health and water and resource management issues. And, most relevant to the discussion surrounding SB-1381, it also means we have a serious Democratic problem.
What we do know, scientifically, is that early-onset diabetes and childhood obesity are both at epidemic proportions in the United States. It is my opinion that the cause is the difference in food over the last ten years. If you look at labels in markets, corn and soy, both highly genetically-modified crops in the U.S., have become major ingredients in most foods over the past decade. But — and here is my salient point — if you look at the label, you have the choice to avoid those foods.
If the people of California cannot be more effectively protected scientifically and they cannot Democratically choose whether they even want genetically-modified products in their lives (all polls suggest they do not), the choice should not be left up to the companies who have profit incentives whether or not to label their products. Consumers should have the choice to vote in the store by reading the labels, labels reading GMO or non-GMO. The whole population should not be subjected to potentially harmful substances without their permission or their choice.
This Tuesday, 5 members of the California Senate Agriculture Committee will be voting whether or not to allow the full Senate to vote on SB-1381. We need more votes to pass it out of committee. Please call them ASAP to express your support of SB-1381 (Evans) today.
- Concerns about the health impacts of eating genetically-modified food products; the dominance of our food supply by a handful of corporations, concerns that lower income people eat and are impacted by the processed food products which most contain genetically-modified ingredients; and that the increased use of pesticides and herbicides necessary for cultivation of genetically-modified crops are increasingly having negative impacts our groundwater, something we particularly need to protect as the drought situation worsens.
- There is a strong precedent to SB-1381 in the United States: the 2004 Food Allergen Labeling Act, which protected consumers by requiring labeling of possible allergens like peanuts, soy and dairy. When it went into force, stores and companies complied, prices remained stable, there was no excessive or abusive litigation and, most importantly, consumers had more information with which to protect themselves. We have all seen the signs, “This product made on equipment which may have once touched peanuts.”
- Food prices also remained stable when the European Union required the labeling of GMOs ten years ago. Sixty-four countries across the globe either label GMOs or ban them completely, including Australia, Brazil, Japan, Peru, India, China and Russia. I am especially concerned that people in China and Russia have more rights to know what is in the food they eat than we do in California.
HERE ARE THE SENATORS ON THE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE:
Ted Lieu - Senate District 28 - (Mar Vista, Santa Monica, West LA, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Pacific Palisades, Bel Air, San Pedro, Rancho Palo Verdes).
Fax: (916) 651-4928
Cathleen Galgiani – Committee Chair - Dem 5 - (Stockton, Lodi, Galt, Lanthrop, Manteca, Tracy, Modesto, Salida, Riverbank)
Fax: (916) 651-4905
Lois Wolk - Dem 3 - (Davis, Vacaville, Woodland, Fairfield, Napa, Sonoma, Vallejo, Calistoga, Winters, Dixon, Martinez, Pleasant Hill, St. Helena)
Fax: (916) 651-4903
Anthony Cannella - Rep-12 - (Modesto, Salinas, Merced, Madera, Turlock, Hollister, Ceres)
Fax: (916) 651-4912
Tom Berryhill - Rep -14 - (Fresno, Modesto, Salida, Lodi, Sonora, Waterford, Oakdale, Escalon, Ripton)
Fax: (916) 651-4914
If you live in any of their districts, please contact them immediately and tell them you want them to support SB 1381.
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For other endorsements: