Meet California's Prop 37: It's Your Natural Right To Know
Labeling biotech food gets a little more specific
Sounds like Californians want the right to know whether their food has been modified...from the molecular level, upwards. The new initiative, a first step in bringing America up to speed with "labeling" nations like Russia, Japan and even China, Proposition 37 simply needs to be defined.
On the pro-label side are Californians who want to know whether their food has been modified. They're not saying they will only buy non-GMO food — and no boycotts have been planned as of now. They simply feel entitled to the right to know, so they can make informed decisions. These are the people looking for answers to questions like "why are our kids all allergic to food" and "remember that time 50 years ago when these newsworthy new diseases didn't exist." There is also the ever-present "why did the EU all but ban GMOs eight years ago?"
The resistance to the bill stems largely from those wanting to avoid unnecessary drama associated with GMOs, which are still touted as perfectly safe to consume — an important pillar in such an agriculture-heavy, strapped-for-cash state.
Unfortunately, for the defense, companies like Monsanto, General Mills, ConAgra and PepsiCo maintain active financial efforts to keep modified foods in unregulated circulation (to the tune of $25 million so far). It breeds suspicion that these GMO-praising corporations have something to hide.
To the pro-labelers' credit, Prop 37 isn't just about labeling genetically modified foods, it's about labeling foods properly in general, as well as instating fines for offending companies. Under this new legislation, the word "natural" itself heads back to the chamber for defining. Whole apples = natural. Pre-sliced apples = not natural, no matter how natural the original apple was. The logic: Apples don't grow pre-sliced on the tree with chemicals to keep them from turning brown; they grow whole. Anything that doesn't fit that bill would be prohibited from being packaged or marketed as natural. Organic green beans in a can would not be considered natural due to the chemicals in the canning process, and so forth.
I'm not particularly mad at that logic. I don't think we should be selling pre-sliced apples, period, and "natural" should mean just that. Slice your own freaking apples: here's how to hold a knife — let's fast-track this bill and catch up with China if we're going to constantly call them out on glowing pork, exploding watermelons and all the other clearly labeled culinary delights they bring to the table, shall we? We're silver-medaling at best, and November's right around the corner.
More on the GMO debate at Food Republic: