Just As Nature Intended…Or Maybe Not?Angela | October 1, 2012
Have you ever noticed food labels that proudly proclaim “Non-GMO” in big, bold letters?
If not, it’s definitely time to start.
I have talked ever-so-briefly in the past about genetically modified organisms (GMO) as it pertains to food in the context of soy, as soy is the most common GMO food source out there (followed closely by corn – and corn is in almost everything). Relatively new in the history of our food supply, the first GMO crops were introduced only about 20 years ago, in 1994.
When reader Laurie dropped me a note suggesting I talk a little bit about California’s upcoming ballot measure, Prop 37, I was all over it. Those of us who don’t live in California may not know much (if anything) about this measure, but it’s super important to the future of our food. The measure aims to require labeling of GMO food.
This is huge.
Why? Quite simply, as goes California, so goes the rest of the country.
We’ve seen it time and again.
Remember “California Emissions Standards?” Once a common phrase on game shows that gave away cars, you don’t hear this anymore because emissions testing and requirements are now a common practice in most states.
California is also leading the nation on stringent energy efficiency requirements in home building. As someone who has tried to build a new home in California (and other states – you guys know we have a problem!!), I can tell you the building code is much more stringent with regards to environmental aspects in California as compared to even Washington and Oregon, who are also progressive in this area.
Of course, we all know about their highly-publicized recycling efforts. Just try to obtain a plastic bag in San Francisco. Not gonna happen.
As a matter of fact, where I live in Washington State, there is a similar ballot measure — Initiative Measure No. 522 – aiming to achieve many of the same standards (if not better) than what is proposed in California, but this measure has been mostly overlooked outside of Washington. To be honest, we don’t even really hear about it here!
So, you’re getting the picture here. California is progressive. And, as the most populous state in the U.S., it is also influential. What happens in California sets the stage for what happens in all the other states. There are some concerns about Prop 37, nicely documented by Whole Foods here, and this particular proposition may not make it through the first go round, but the work being done right now is definitely important and could change the future of food labeling (and perhaps even production) in our country.
Why Are There GMO Crops?
To oversimplify a very complex topic, science (i.e., biotech companies) promotes GMO seeds because they are meant to be disease resistant, pest resistant, hardier, and better producing than traditional, non-modified or non-engineered seeds. This is of course driven by money, as for-profit businesses are.
Why Should We Care About GMO Foods?
Everyone has a different opinion on this topic, so I’ll tell you my opinion, but leave it to you to make up your own mind. By the way, I found this blog post that talks more about GMO labeling and Prop 37, written by Dr. Joseph Mercola, to be especially insightful in the area of GMO, biotech, and our food supply.
In a world that gets smaller every day as our population explodes, science promotes GMO as a way to feed the hungry, but, let’s think about this for a moment. Is it really? Or, is it a way for “for-profit” biotech companies to increase sales and drive profits? There is probably a good reason countries like Japan ban GM crops altogether.
I try my best to avoid GMO foods and synthetic anything. Synthetic is a bad word in our house. This pertains not just to produce and packaged foods, but things like sugar. We avoid artificial everything. No Splenda, no Sweet’N Low, and absolutely no aspartame.
Avoiding artificial sweeteners is possible. But, avoiding GMO isn’t always possible – we don’t know in a lot of cases how the food was produced, and something like 70% of corn crops in the U.S. are GMO (remember, corn is in everything!). But, I try to eat food in its most natural state possible. Personally, I don’t want science interfering what nature created. We don’t really know the long-term health impacts of manipulating food with genetic engineering – and we won’t for a long time.
What Can You Do
If you are concerned about GMO and genetically-engineered foods, you are not alone, but you also have options!
- Take some time to learn about GMO food labeling and the impact California could have by leading the way and passing Prop 37, especially if you live in California. If Californians vote yes, their decision will likely have a trickle down effect for the rest of us – and we could start having a conscious choice at the grocery store whether or not to by GMO foods.
- Be sure to vote – if you live in California (Prop 37) or Washington state (I—522), this November is important to the future of food labeling in your state.
- Buy certified organic when you can, as organic foods are prevented from having GMO or genetically engineered properties.
- Write to your congressman, your governor, your attorney general, and anyone else who you think can drive support for food labeling in your state. Yes, I know, that sounds cliché – but, your elected officials are your voice. If they don’t know this issue matters to you, they won’t get involved.
Knowledge is power, friends, and there is a lot of money in GMO. The folks that make the money from selling the GMO seeds don’t want you to know the end product was GMO because they don’t want to interfere with profits.
What are your thoughts? Do you care about GMO foods?