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GMO Labeling Proposition 37 Defeated in California

Upon waking up this morning and finding out that President Obama had won his re-election to the Presidency, I wanted to know if Proposition 37 passed in California.

If you were not aware, Prop 37 is the first potential legislation requiring the labeling of GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) in our foods.

The Proposition states:

(a) California consumers have the right to know whether the foods they purchase were produced using genetic engineering. Genetic engineering of plants and animals often causes unintended consequences. Manipulating genes and inserting them into organisms is an imprecise process. The results are not always predictable or controllable, and they can lead to adverse health or environmental consequences.”  (Read the full Proposition)

Unfortunately, Prop. 37 failed!  Upon reading through some of the commentaries and news stories, there were several reasons why it failed.

The Scientist reported on October 30, 2012 that the American Association for the Advancement of Science was against Prop. 37 stating ….

Slapping labels on genetically modified (GM) foods is a bad idea, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The science advocacy organization’s executive board approved a statement on October 20th saying that requiring such labels, as a ballot measure in California seeks to do, could “mislead and falsely alarm consumers.”

“Consuming foods containing ingredients from GM crops is no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques,” the AAAS executive board wrote. “The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the US National Academy of Sciences, the British Royal Society, and every other respected organization that has examined the evidence has come to the same conclusion.

UC Davis News and Information reports the following:

University of California, Davis, School of Law researchers caution …

“While Proposition 37 generally captures the spirit of the genetically engineered food labeling movement, it also contains several exemptions and ambiguities that have made it a controversial measure facing California voters,” says Miles Hogan, an environmental law fellow for the California Environmental Law and Policy Center at the UC Davis School of Law. “If the initiative is enacted, those important questions will have to be resolved through regulators’ interpretation or in the courts.”

While not taking a position on the initiative, the report noted that the initiative’s language will likely face litigation challenges over such issues as whether Proposition 37’s labeling requirements and advertising restrictions constitute a violation of the First Amendment — regulating speech both by prohibiting and by compelling certain statements by the food sellers, especially the provision that prohibits “natural” claims.

So what does all this have to do with Gluten Free Vegans?  Plenty, I say!  As a non-wheat eater, Gluten Free folks often consume more corn, soy and other grains.  If you read my blog last month on GMO and Gluten Free Foods, you’ll know that corn, in particular, is almost 100% GMO (unless organic) and soy is not too far behind!  (Read what the Organic Authority has to say about soy and GMO).

Pass or Failed, Prop. 37 challenged us all to look at GMO food more closely.  Sometimes, consumer awareness is just the start of a positive movement in the right direction, in my opinion!  And in the second round, we will be better prepared!

Although Prop 37 failed in California,  we still have a voice in this controversy.  Just Label It:  We have a Right to Know … if our food has been generically engineered is still fighting for GMO labeling.  Check out their website and fill out the form called, Tell the FDA, to voice your opinion.  Like their Facebook Fan Page!

The Non GMO Project is another organization to follow if you want to make your voice heard!  Subscribe to their news letter and check out their Non-GMO food list.  Like their Facebook Fan Page and stay on top of the developments.

We have not heard the last of this issue!