I don’t want my kids eating genetically engineered (GE) food, but I know they have and will continue to if labeling is not required by our government. I am concerned that we don’t know what the consequences to both our health and agriculture will be. Cross breeding of wheat has led to a rise in Celiac’s Disease. What will GE food do?
In November, voters in California will have a chance to vote on Proposition 37: Right to Know Label Genetically Engineered Food.
All Proposition 37 does is require clear labels letting consumers know if foods are genetically modified. We already have food labels showing nutrition, allergy information and other facts consumers want to know. This measure simply adds information telling us if food is produced using genetic engineering, which is when food is modified in a laboratory by adding DNA from other plants, animals, bacteria or viruses…
We Currently Eat Genetically Engineered Food, But Don’t Know It
A genetically engineered food is a plant or meat product that has had its DNA artificially altered in a laboratory by genes from other plants, animals, viruses, or bacteria in order to produce foreign compounds in that food. This type of genetic alteration is not found in nature and is experimental. The scientific term is “transgenics,” and is also often referred to as GMO, or Genetically Modified Organisms.
Example: Genetically Modified corn has been engineered in a laboratory to produce pesticides in its own tissue. GMO corn is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency as an Insecticide, but is sold unlabeled. [EPA Pesticides]
This proposition will not cost our government anything. Food producers will merely have to change their labels. The impact on consumers will be huge!
The only real power individuals have in a capitalist market is from individual buying habits. Spunk Library explains:
A key element of the social vision propounded by capitalism, particularly “libertarian” capitalism, is that of “voting” by the “customer,” which is compared to political voting by the “citizen.” According to Milton Friedman, “when you vote in the supermarket, you get precisely what you voted for and so does everyone else.”
Of course, there are lots of fallacies with this argument, which Spunk Library, an anarchist site, does a good job explaining, but there is some truth in it. If our foods are labeled as genetically engineered, simple economic principles of supply and demand will be affected as these products are avoided. Just look at the rise in the organic food market.
Consumers have been buying more and more organic food, and as a result, organically grown food can be purchased in almost every grocery store now. Furthermore, conventional food producers have purchased smaller organic companies in order to get a share of this growing market. This is not necessarily a good thing, as organic standard are weakened; however, it does show the power of labeling. Without organic labeling, consumers wouldn’t know which products to buy or to avoid.
Another example is the rise in gluten-free products and labeling. When my dad was diagnosed as a Celiac 20 years ago, it was much more difficult to find ready-made products. Now gluten-free labeling is prevalent, and many restaurants have gluten-free menus. The demand has risen, so food producers have responded in like.
Labeling genetically engineered food could have a similar effect as consumers avoid these products. Perhaps the agriculture industry will respond and steer away from this practice as consumers steer clear. Even if labeling does not affect the bigger picture, at least individuals will be informed and have a choice.
GE labeling in California is the first step. If you are a resident of the Golden State, please vote yes on Proposition 37. Even if you are not concerned about GE foods, labeling is not harmful but it does gives consumers choice. Please vote!