GMOs: To Label or Not to Label

As we have discussed recently, genetically modified foods (GMO’s) are becoming more and more prevalent.  As with anything new, you have to try to consider the long-term consequences.  Remember back to when Sweet ‘n Low, Nutrasweet, Ephedra, Olean, and Trans Fats were the latest and greatest inventions?  Remember when Thalidamide (commonly prescribed as a miracle cure for morning sickness) was proven to cause birth defects?  That’s right, each of the above, when first introduced to the general population, was a great discovery.  It was only later (sometimes decades later) that concerns and caution outweighed advertised benefits.  Three things can happen as a result.  The product can lose popularity, labeling may become required so consumers can choose for themselves, or it can be pulled off the market altogether.

When it comes to GMOs, we’re reaching a tipping point.  Safety concerns about GMOs have been longstanding in the scientific and medical community.  However, since most consumers are unaware of all the details, the opposition has been very quiet.  That’s changing, quickly, right now.  Americans are waking up to the concept that we may be unwilling participants in one of the most wide scale science experiments ever conducted.

The safety concerns are fairly obvious – there’s just a big question mark surrounding the safety of food products when the genes of the DNA of the food itself is manipulated.  In this day and age, it seems like a fairly obvious solution – just label stuff that contains GMO products.  Let consumers decide whether they want to be part of the experiment or not.  This concept isn’t new either – GMOs have been labeled by requirement in Europe (40 European nations to be exact) since 1997, in China since 2004, and in India beginning this year.  In America, the land of opportunity, the land of the free, we’re also the home of the brave.  Thank goodness we’re brave enough to eat whatever is fed to us.

But we don’t have to be dumb enough to continue with blind bravery and acceptance…  15 years after Europe saw fit to label these foods, Americans are just about to get with the program.  As with many landmark changes and forward thinking movements, Californians have fought to make a change.  This November, they’ll vote for the very first time on “The Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.”  Not the politicians, the people.  This ballot initiative is a major step in the right direction for savvy consumers.  California is likely to pave the way for other states, if historical trends have anything to say about it.

What does Monsanto have to say about it?  They’ve assured us there’s nothing to be concerned about.  The products are safe, they’re pretty sure of it.  It’s funny, though, there are no independent studies to confirm this.  There’s no long-term study that even considers the effects on the environment, on direct human consumption, consumption after processing,nor human consumption of animals fed GMO feed.  Labeling, they say, “may cause unnecessary fear among consumers” and it may cause a decrease in sales of products containing GMO food.   Why shouldn’t we just believe them?  Well for starters, they assured us that Agent Orange was safe too.

Please share this with your Californian friends.  Ask them to vote YES on Prop 37 so that the rest of the country may have a chance to vote on it one day too!

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