The quick answer: For the first time, Californians can have the right to know if the food they eat has been genetically modified. That’s the intent of Prop 37. I’m not a fan of adding new laws, but for this one I plan to vote “yes.”
David vs Goliath
We refer to the purveyors of the modern American diet (MAD) collectively as Food Inc. The heavy weights are the GMO giant Monsanto; chemical companies like Dow and DuPont; processors such as Nestle, General Mills, and Kellogg’s; soda companies including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo; plus McDonalds and the motley mammoths of the fast food industry.
Collectively the Food Inc companies constitute a modern Goliath. Those who support the food reformation, including yours truly, hope to play the role of David. You don’t often see David and Goliath in open conflict but it’s happening right now. I’m talking about the California election battle over Prop 37.
The purpose of Prop 37 isn’t to ban GMO food. It simply provides a “right to know” to California consumers. Basically, foods that include genetically modified ingredients must be labeled as such. In addition, the term “Natural,” can’t be used with GMO foods. We’re not the first to want this. The major industrialized countries require GMO labeling on foods—only the US, where these foods were first invented, allows their use without disclosure to the public. Besides California, activists in other states are working on similar labeling requirements.
It should be noted that Prop 37 exempts two food groups: Alcoholic beverages, which are governed by different labeling laws, and meat products, which aren’t yet labeled in most other countries. Perhaps meat should be labeled too, but animals have a longer lifespan so tracking diet is more complicated.
Food and the Creation
We’ve noted before that the first chapter of Genesis, between the organization of the world and the formation of Man, is mostly about the creation of our food supply. It’s mainly about plants, but Man is also given a duty of care over the beasts.
The goal of Word of Wisdom Living is to eat our food—mostly plants but also a little meat—as close as practical to the way it was first created. We see this as reverence for the Creation. GMO foods, because they breach the natural barriers between food species, seem the opposite. Some call them Frankenfoods.
We won’t know the consequences of genetic modification for some time. But in the mean time, it would be prudent to follow the Century Rule: Wait a century before incorporating any newly invented food into your diet.
The Organic Argument
Food Inc, in an attempt to defeat Prop 37, is pouring money into the fight in California. That's what Goliaths do. One of their arguments is that if you don’t want GMO food you can just buy food labeled “organic.” This is a thoughtless argument because it imposes a heavy cost burden on the average family working to meet a budget.
If you want to know more about the pros and cons of Prop 37, go to this article, for a lively video debate and comments by Mike Pollan.
Please comment: If you enjoyed some fresh sweet corn this summer, you likely were eating GMO food. Sweet corn’s the most recent; 25 crops have been approved in the US including most of the papaya grown in Hawaii. Wouldn’t you rather know what you’re eating? Share your thoughts on GMO foods.