What About Prop 37 in California?

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 RuleWait 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.

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    Word of Wisdom living - Word of Wisdom Living - What About Prop 37 in California?

Reader Comments (12)

I think this could be valuable information but I think it should be done on a federal level so I am voting no.

I definitely believe that GMO foods go against what God intended. I feel very strongly about it. I am not big on more laws, but I also believe that we have a right to know what we are eating, so I support Prop 37. If I were in California I would definitely vote for it. I hope that it passes there and other states follow. As it is now, I am pretty much afraid to buy anything at the store unless it is a whole food item. We just avoid corn altogether, except for the occasional organic corn chips. However, that is junk food so we don't eat that very often.

October 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

We can only hope -- that on this issue, as California goes, so goes the Country. GMO may have began as a means of feeding more for less, but it hasn't ended that way. Putting calories on fast food meals doesn't interest me as much as knowing exactly what is in what I'm eating.

I hope California votes their dinner plate.

October 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLizA

Every plant we eat has been genetically modified by thousands of years of selective breeding.

Prop 37 is a subsidy for big organic food companies, who are just as evil as the standard big food companies and stand to reap large profits from scared consumers who don't understand what GMO means. The rules it imposes are arbitrary and confusing, they will increase the price of food and make the process of selling food much more complicated, since vendors will be liable for labeling of products they sell. Worst of all, this law relies on trial lawyers to enforce it - there is no state regulatory agency, instead the trial lawyers will profit off our beleaguered court system by filing even more lawsuits.

It's a bad law and deserves defeat. I love this blog, but I have to disagree with its position on Prop 37 and I will be voting emphatically no.

October 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRecessionCone

Yes! I do want to know what I'm eating and it just seems ludicrous that the food giants are really putting forth a serious argument and so much money against this law. I mean, it's just the right to know, that's all. I live in Utah and hope that it passes in California since most companies will just use one label for the whole country. And hopefully, this will lead to less use of GMOs down the road.

October 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLindsey

It typically goes against what I believe to legislate something like this. However, I wholeheartedly support prop 37 because of how Food, Inc has perverted our food supply. All I want is real, wholesome food to feed my family. Simple. I shouldn't have to wade through aisles of garbage at the grocery store or wonder what mystery chemical has been sprayed on my food. Tell me what I'm ingesting.
I recently watched "The World According to Monsanto" and it was eye opening. (It's free to watch online.) Follow the money.
What I've learned: the argument that we've been eating genetically modified foods for thousands of years is a weak argument and absolutely untrue if you understand the science behind GMO's.

October 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDee

One other thought on Prop 37: This is a local action on a national problem—giving people information about the food they eat. I agree that national action would be better. But Congress and even the FDA/USDA can be tied up by powerful special interest lobbies. They haven't done zip about the GMOs. So taking local action is the next best remedy.

The special interests can tie up (or even buy off) our Congress. But they can't stay on top of all the local towns, counties, cities and states. So like public cigarette smoking, sometimes local action against national problems is the only place to start. For a great example of this, read the book "The Cigarette Century." The battle against tobacco-caused lung cancer and COPD was won when towns started banning smoking.

October 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterskip hellewell

I am so hopeful that California will be the good example, and lead the Nation in requiring transparency from the food producers, helping everyone make more informed choices about what they put in their bodies.
Please California, do the sensible thing, for our long term. We don't have to worry about the additional cost of labeling. That is a short term concern. Like whether people will continue to go out to eat, or fly if they can't smoke while doing so. Like whether people will still go shopping if you don't provide them with plastic bags. These are short term fears.
It takes surprisingly little time for the American people to embrace a good thing. One example: Seat belts... We quickly adopt good habits, that start as laws, but soon are merely afterthoughts in our conscious.
Slightly off topic, but concerning the diminishing potential for true organic food. If the pesticides that are used on the US crops is killing our bees, the very creatures that create the possibility of our food, they're probably not so good for us either. (See 2009 documentary 'Vanishing of the Bees', although there are many updates to date, it still is a great little doc.)
We need to re-think why we do the things we do. We've made a lot of decisions in this Nation based on an addiction to profits. Yes, we need to produce food for a lot of people. And there needs to be enough profit to sustain the production of that food. But we've gotten so greedy, and sloppy. We produce mainly for profits. We invent and create, and will ship half way around the world anything to feed cravings and for convenience. It's all short term gratification.
Portion quantity and lack of nutritional quality are out of control in this Nation.
Food IS going to get more expensive. Especially if we don't reform the way we grow it, and buy it. We need to consider what is the best way to feed the most people, in the most nutrient rich way, for the long term. We also need to be aware of the way we are treating this Planet as we use it to meet our needs.
I think prop 37 is a great start.
Hey, thank you Skip for fighting the good fight. I really enjoy your blog.
Sorry for the discombobulated soap box. Apparently I need an editor. But you're blog really speaks to my language, and gets me all hopped up.

October 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

I support laws that require disclosure and believe that they will never happen at the federal level. Please California support this proposition.

October 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterchristie

We avoid GMO foods at all cost. We have a large family, so sometimes it gets a bit more expensive, but we have a saying in our home, "pay for it now in good food or later in medical bills."

October 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterApril

"Seeds of Deception" is a book that describes some of the efforts that have been made to force other countries to allow GM foods to be imported from the USA in past decades. So much money can be generated, so much power and political influence, it's a wonder that a few of us have any rights at all when it comes to what is available to put on our dinner plates. Keep up the fight though. Please keep up the fight.

November 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

GMO foods are the only sustainable way to feed the world's growing population. Banning GMO food doesn't just make food more expensive, it also promotes:
1. Malnutrition: developing countries can't afford expensive food.
2. Extinction: non-GMO crops require much larger areas of land to grow, which means wildlife sanctuaries must be converted into cropland.
3. Water shortage: non-GMO crops are thirstier
4. Increased biocide use: non-GMO crops require more pesticides or other
5. Loss of topsoil: non-GMO crops require more tilling

It's time for those of us who love good nutrition and the planet to embrace sustainability and science, rather than promoting superstition, scarcity, and the destruction of our natural resources.

"Are you also opposed to the wheel because because it is marketed by the big auto companies?"

A good summary of the science, from someone who only recently changed his mind on GMO foods:

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRecessionCone

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