The title to this entry refers to Proposition 37 that will appear on the California ballot this November 6, 2012. It is also known as “The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act”. If the majority of Californians vote “yes” to Proposition 37 on election day, with a few exemptions, raw and processed foods will be required to label all Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) found in those products. Finally, at least a portion of the citizens of the United States of America has a chance to know whether GMOs are in their food or not, at least a portion of those foods.
This is a HUGE opportunity for California, and even for us here in Maryland. If California demands labeling of GMOs, there is a great possibility that the companies that need to buy/place those labels on their products, will also do the same when the identical product is sold in the other 49 states. This is an EXTREMELY important issue, and I will attempt to present my own point of view on this.
The first issue I will present will be that of GMOs in general, that is genetic modification. In organic farming, GMOs are not allowed of any kind, obviously. My personal decision on growing organically is that a natural/organic diet is what our species, along with all other species on the planet have evolved consuming for countless generations. The means by which, say, a plant grows, is extremely complicated. A myriad of processes are involved along with an environment that consists of a myriad of predators, prey, and other incidentals too numerous to count. While laboratory science has been able to classify some of those processes, there are still countless other parts to the equation of life that lie unnoticed or perhaps viewed as unimportant. Luckily, however, such intense laboratory science is not necessary in order to continue our hereditary diet. The easiest means by which to maintain the natural/organic diet ALL of our predecessors evolved eating, that is, other than the last generation or three, is to mimic how nature produces our… produce. Thus, organic farming uses natural/organic dirt that is fed natural/organic matter such as compost, with natural/organic plants or animals, grown in a natural/organic way in a natural/organic environment.
GMOs could not be more diametrically opposed to the organic approach. For me, the thought that humans can genetically modify or alter a life form in order to “improve” it is absurd. But that is exactly what GMOs are purported to do. Before I proceed, I will go back to the natural/organic approach.
The organic farmer is required to be a steward of the earth, that is, to improve the land/soil that is farmed. Every year that a field is farmed organically, the soil improves, that is, becomes healthier with millions of organic life forms in the living soil whose symbiotic relationship with crops causes those crops to thrive. Another aspect of at least my farming style is that the healthiest plants in any crop are used to save seed. By doing this, which is ultimately an organic form of natural selection, the healthiest and tastiest of crops improve by evolving to the exact environment in which it was grown.
The effort put forth for such organic farming is absurd to those who take the GMO approach. The “conventional” approach is to add a mathematical equation of synthetic fertilizer, which does absolutely nothing to “heal” the soil, but since this entry is about GMOs, I will quickly proceed to that topic. GMOs enter the situation in the form of seeds. Chemical companies have genetically modified crops for a number of different qualities. The easiest for me to explain is corn. Corn, which is somewhere around 100% of processed food, (or at least it seems like it to me), is mostly grown on tremendously huge fields over thousands and thousands of acres. In order to accomplish this, the “agriculture” of corn growing had to become industrialized. GMOs have worked very well with this, to a degree.
Weeds grow in corn fields as well as a normal field. However, chemical herbicides have been created that will kill those weeds. Now, there are GMO corn seeds that have been modified not to die when certain chemical herbicides are sprayed on them. There are other attributes that the seeds have been genetically modified for, such as germination rates, plant size, etc. There are more issues involved as well, but this should suffice for this entry.
The issue here is that none of the “conventional” is truly natural. The argument for GMOs is the production numbers. They are staggering. The issue again is “natural”. Although GMO producing companies assure us that there are no negative effects of using GMOs, there is no proof this is the case. The problem is that no proof has been required by the US government before allowing their commercial use. The issue again is “natural”. Throughout my own life, cancer rates have soared. What causes cancer? More and more children are born with allergies. How has that come to be?
Again, the GMOs will argue there is no proof, but more and more studies are linking these ailments along with many others with unnatural processed foods. And GMOs are a likely candidate at which to cast blame in my opinion, and this leads me to the second issue. Up to this date, GMOs have not been required to be listed on food packaging, for the government saw no difference from the natural product and the GMO. What difference could there be? I just mentioned it. Issue 2 is, even if we made the personal choice not to eat food with GMOs, there is no way of knowing if it actually does. And this issue makes me quite irate.
If GMOs do lead to cancer, etc., then the American populace is being poisoned covertly and the American government sanctions it! This situation is incredibly exasperating to me. Why can’t the people of America know what is in their food? As the argument goes, if GMOs are harmless, why not advertise them and let the consumer decide? The issue is quite straight forward and simple. Americans deserve to know what is in the food they eat. If they decide not to know, that is their choice. But those who are concerned about GMOs should be able to know. This issue is a no-brainer, so to speak, unless the voter is somehow benefited by the GMO company… or has no grasp of the real situation.
And so it goes down to a vote… November 6… in California… It could be a great day for American food, or it could be another one of ignorance. But that will not stop the “Right to Know” group. This is just a start. It has taken almost seventeen years, but again it is a start. What I have witnessed and been part of over the past decade plus has been very encouraging. More and more people are becoming educated on of what their food actually consists. There has been an ever increasing demand for organic produce. So, even if this vote does not pass, it will not stop the surge of demand for natural/organic produce. And while admitting the risk of being too optimistic… maybe, just maybe, the American government will wise up to Big Agriculture and realize it is harming the American people by providing cheap food that is unnatural and artificial. What a great day that would be!