On the upcoming November ballot, California voters will be faced with voting either yes or no on Proposition 37, which if approved would:
- Prohibit labeling or advertising such food as "natural."
- Require labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if the food is made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways.
- Exempt from this requirement foods that are certified organic; unintentionally produced with genetically engineered material; made from animals fed or injected with genetically engineered material but not genetically engineered themselves; processed with or containing only small amounts of genetically engineered ingredients; administered for treatment of medical conditions; sold for immediate consumption such as in a restaurant; or alcoholic beverages.
James Wheaton, who filed the ballot language for the initiative, refers to it as "The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act."
The Pacifica City Council endorsed the Yes on 37 campaign to label genetically engineered food in a September meeting after hearing a presentation the month before from Pamm Larry, the self-described “grandmother from Chico” who's been instrumental in getting an initiative on the California ballot to label genetically engineered foods. The Pacifica City Council vote was 3-1, with Mayor Pete De Jarnatt voting against it and Mayor Pro Tem Len Stone absent.
“At its most basic level, we demand to know what we are feeding our families. Pure and simple,” said Pacifica resident Cheryl Tina Sebay, who wonders if the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce will also bring to light the issue of genetically engineered food.
The arguments presented in favor of Proposition 37 as presented in the state's official voter guide include:
- "You should have the right to know what's in your food."
- "You'll have the information you need about foods that some physicians and scientists say are linked to allergies and other significant health risks."
- "Over 40 countries around the world require labels for genetically modified foods.”
There has been $50,000 in donations to the "yes" campaign as of Oct.1, 2012, from companies including Amy’s Kitchen, Annie’s, Inc., Nutiva, Nature's Path Foods and Clif Bar & Co., according to information posted on BallotPedia.
In Half Moon Bay, Well Kiddos founder Manu Hipkins and daughter Nina will give a talk about Prop 37 and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which are plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology in food, at New Leaf Market on Oct. 18.
“We are trying to educate people in a grassroots effort about Prop 37 and ask that people please vote yes for it,” Hipkins said. “The big companies have started to campaign against Prop 37, and we don’t have the funds to keep up with the ads that are about to come out.”
She’s talking about the $34.5 million that has been donated to the "No on 37" campaign effort from companies like General Mills, Sara Lee, Campbell’s Soup and Ocean Spray Cranberries, according to BallotPedia, which posted the total campaign cash as of Oct. 1, 2012.
Prop 37 supporters like Hipkins are up against arguments in opposition to Proposition 37 as outlined in the state's official voter guide:
- "It's a deceptive, deeply flawed food labeling scheme that would add more government bureaucracy and taxpayer costs, create new frivolous lawsuits, and increase food costs by billions—without providing any health or safety benefits."
- "It's full of special interest exemptions."
- "It authorizes shakedown lawsuits."
A No vote on this measure, which asks voters to "stop the deceptive food labeling scheme" means: Genetically engineered foods sold in California would continue not to have specific labeling requirements.
Still, these funds and arugments aren’t stopping local Yes on Prop 37 supporters to get the word out.
This weekend, on Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Half Moon Bay Farmers’ Market, Prop 37 supporters and anyone who’s interested in learning more about the campaign are invited to a table event adjacent to the Ted Adock Community Center. Local co-coordinators will be there starting at 9 a.m. handing out Yes on 37 campaign materials to share with friends and family, and endorse the campaign to label genetically engineered food in California.
Kim Dault and Alanna Pinkerton, San Francisco Peninsula Grassroots Co-coordinators for the Yes on Prop 37 campaign, are also calling out for more volunteers to talk to people outside local supermarkets and venues.
“We hope more people will join us in making our food safer,” said Dault, heading up the San Mateo County's 2012 CA Label GMOs Ballot Initiative Campaign.
How will you vote on Prop 37? Tell us in the comments!