Tag Archives: state propositions

Why I Support Prop 37 – the GMO Labeling Proposition in California

There’s a proposition on California’s ballot on Tuesday that is an easy Yes for me. It’s Proposition 37, which would require foods with genetically modified ingredients to be labeled. There’s so much information on labels already that this seems a simple thing. But when you’re going up against companies that don’t want to face the chance of consumer bias against their products, nothing is that simple.

No on 37 Is Deceptive

I found this article on the deceptive ads by No on 37 very interesting. They’re being deceptive about the FDA’s position on the matter, cost claims, and have made misleading statements on the exemptions provided for in the law. Read the whole thing, follow through on the interesting links there, don’t just take my word for it.

Their claim about grocery bills increasing by $400 is rather deceptive too. It’s not that food prices would be directly increased. It’s that opponents believe consumers will insist on higher priced ingredients rather than buying products with GMO ingredients, and so manufacturers might have to change what’s in their products and raise prices.

Frankly, if that’s what consumers prefer, then they’ll choose the higher prices. That’s a choice, not a requirement of the law. I don’t have a problem with people choosing to pay more if they mistrust the ingredients. Personally, and I have nothing to back this up except personal experience, I think most people will ignore such labeling anyhow. How many people are going to switch away from Pepsi just for finding that the high fructose corn syrup may come from genetically modified corn?

All that aside, a study by Joanna Shepherd Bailey, Ph.D., a tenured professor at Emory University School of Law expects that there will be no increased cost to consumers. (PDF) I suspect that claim has more to do with the industry’s general resistance to new labeling requirements, even though changing labels is done regularly and isn’t a major expense.

Research on GMOs is Limited

Producers like to claim that they’ve properly tested GMO foods before sending them to market. That would be nice, but companies have a lot of control over any research done on GM foods. According to Scientific American, licensing agreements forbid research on genetically modified seeds, unless the company agrees to it. They then also get to decide whether or not the results may be published.

That isn’t just a food safety issue, although that’s what’s relevant when talking about Prop 37. It means that it’s harder for other scientists to prove whether or not the genetically modified seeds perform as claimed.

If the companies making GMOs really want proof that their products are safe and more productive, why don’t they welcome outside research?

Are Genetically Modified Foods Safe?

When it comes to the safety of genetically modified foods for human consumption, I’ll stick with the World Health Organization’s view – it’s impossible to state yes or no categorically. Some might be, some might not be. So why not let consumers decide if they want to take that chance?

There have been some controversial studies which suggest that some types are not safe to eat.  Seems clear to me that more study is indicated. If they’re so safe, there’s little to be lost. If not, well, I’d sure like to know that too.

You may also enjoy reading some of the summaries on Pubmed, although you won’t always be able to get the full text without proper credentials. Try Intestinal and peripheral immune response to MON810 maize ingestion in weaning and old mice and A comparison of the effects of three GM corn varieties on mammalian health. There’s more, but due to restrictions on research on GMOs, it’s hard to find. Personally, I’d like more long term studies proving that GMOs are safe.

Is the Proposition Poorly Written?

This is one of the big claims of the No on 37 folks. I don’t think it’s all that complex – I’ve read it myself. You can do so too – here’s a copy through KCET, or you can download the PDF from the California Voter’s Guide website. I also really appreciate KCET’s listing of supportors and opponents of Prop 37. It’s really not surprising, on the whole.

There’s not much time before the election, but I hope this article gives at least some people some perspective on this subject so they can come to a decision.

Green Propositions in California Are Frustrating!

California is great for going green in a lot of ways. Lots of sunshine for those who want solar power. Often good incentives for it too. Curbside recycling in many areas.

Unfortunately, the statewide propositions we have to consider aren’t so great.

I have a love/hate thing for the system of state propositions. On the one hand, it means the votes can decide on things the legislature isn’t going to bother with. There’s a more direct say.

On the other hand, some propositions end up really being on things the legislature should have taken care of, because they require so much research to make an intelligent decision on.

The two big ones are Prop 7 and Prop 10.

It pains me to be against Prop 7. It really does. But I see its goals as unrealistic. I’d love to be able to meet those goals, but generating 20% of the energy created by government owned utilities from renewable sources by 2010 strikes me as highly unrealistic. It’s nearly the end of 2008, after all! Add in that opponents include the Sierra Club, the California Democratic Party and the California Republican Party, as well as many other groups.

But does it ever hurt to oppose it. I love the idea! Especially since the goals keep increasing. But I worry about the potential impact on smaller companies, and how we develop our use of renewable energy sources. This looks too likely to be a solution that will slow progress down, not speed it up.

When my family got together to discuss the propositions, we at first thought Prop 10 sounded good. But my mother works for the state and while she doesn’t deal with the budget in her job (she’s in worker’s comp), she certainly feels the pinch when the state can’t settle on a budget and stops paying for a time. For those of you out of state, that’s happened a lot of years lately. They get the back pay eventually, but it’s a pain.

She always gets mad when they say a bond issue won’t increase taxes. It won’t that year, but how exactly do people expect the bonds to be paid back?

Opponents also say this is mostly to fund natural gas vehicles. Not nearly so much hybrids, electric cars and so forth. These vehicles don’t even necessarily pollute less than regular ones!

As you can imagine, being against these two nominally environmental propositions is really hard for me. It would be so much nicer to have something that could be supported as a step in the right direction, even if it weren’t perfect. These two are so far beyond perfect I can’t support them.