Danielle Rennard, Staff Writer
A new proposition was presented in California about labeling food products more clearly. As a result to a grass-root movement that erupted from concerned food consumers from all over the Golden State, Proposition 37 was created. This proposition would require the labeling of foods made from genetically altered plants or animal materials by the summer of 2014. The Department of Public Health would be responsible for labeling all food products, from baby food to vegetables. Each item would be stamped with labels that stated either partially produced with genetic engineering, genetically engineered or may be partially produced with genetic engineering. Although over a million Californians fought for the right to know how their food is produced, Proposition 37 was not passed on Election Day, November 6.
The creation of this proposition satisfied many people across California. If
passed, genetically modified food products would no longer be labeled “natural.” It would have made California the first state to acquire such a labeling system and finally allow people to know exactly how the food they are eating has been produced. Stacy Malkan is a longtime advocate for environmental health and a spokesperson for Yes on 37 California Right to Know campaign. Regarding the purpose of Proposition 37, she stated, “It’s about our right to decide if we want to eat food that’s been fundamentally altered at a genetic level by companies such as Monsanto to contain bacteria, viruses, or foreign genes that has never been in the food system before.” She also discussed how for over two decades information about genetically engineered foods has been hidden from Americans. 61 countries require labels that identify genetically engineered foods and Malkan explains that chemical companies have a huge impact on the fact that America still has no labels. These companies, along with pesticide and junk food companies, are being blamed for Proposition 37 not being passed.
Negative advertisements and commercials poisoned the minds of people in California, feeding them lies in order to persuade them not to vote to pass the proposition. Companies that felt threatened by the idea of having food products labeled to indicate if they have been genetically modified spent nearly $40 million to campaign against Proposition 37. They hid the truth from the public and presented false claims to scare consumers into thinking that passing this proposition would lead to a major increase in the cost of foods.
David Zilberman, professor of agricultural and resource economics at University of California, Berkeley, and director of the Center for Sustainable Resource Development, stated that it would be pointless to begin labeling foods because there are other options available such as organic foods. He said, “When I think of a world without genetically modified foods, I think of killing people and poisoning the environment.” Clearly this is not a valid point because as Stacy Malkan suggests, genetically modified foods require more and more chemicals and pesticides because they continually become resistant to them.
California was split with a result of 46.9 percent yes and 53.1 percent no for
Proposition 37. Although the vote is over, it is almost guaranteed that this proposition will be seen on the ballot again. The million people that fought to have this proposition created will fight until the end for it to be passed and allow people to truly know what they are eating.