April 16, 2014

GMO Labeling on California Ballot This Fall

The Right-to-Know campaign has obtained more than enough signatures on its GMO labeling petition to appear on the California ballot this fall. The petition will require GMO labeling on foods in California.

The measure would require food manufacturers to identify genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that are in any food sold in California. This may lead to nation-wide labeling so manufacturers don’t have to print two labels on the same product.

When California added the caramel coloring 4-MI to its list of carcinogens under Proposition 65 in 2009, the manufacturer of that product agreed to change it to meet California’s standards.

Food Poisoning Bulletin asked Stacy Malkan, Media Director for the California Right-to-Know 2012 ballot initiative, about this issue. She said, “consumers have a right to know what’s in the food we buy and eat and feed our children, just as we have the right to know how many calories are in our food, or whether food comes from other countries like Mexico or China.

“The same goes for whether our meat, dairy, fruits, or vegetables are genetically engineered in a laboratory. We should all be able to make informed choices, and have the freedom to choose whether to buy genetically engineered food or not.”

We asked if there are any health issues connected to GMO foods. Ms. Malkan answered, “the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t require any health studies or safety testing of genetically engineered food, so there’s a lot we don’t know about the health impacts. But we do know there is cause for concern.

“Independent studies show that genetically engineering food can create new, unintended toxicants and increase allergies and other health problems. Experts around the world agree that by labeling genetically engineered food, we can help identify if these foods are causing any health problems.

The measure needed at least 550,000 verified signatures to be added to the ballot. The group has collected almost 1 million signatures. California requires that the signatures be verified by random sampling and full check methods. The Right to Know organization used volunteers to collect signatures.

According to a poll conducted by the Mellman Group, 90% of Americans want to see GMO labeling on foods. Transparency in labeling is important, according to Dr. Ted Labuza, food science professor at the University of Minnesota, who stresses the principle of informed consent.

For more information on this issue, please visit  California Right-to-Know.org.

 

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