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Akhila Vijayaraghavan headshot

California GMO Labeling Law Makes It Onto November Ballot

Last month I wrote that California has become the battleground for GMO labeling in America. Now, Food Safety News has reported that "California's Office of Secretary of State announced that the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, also known as the GMO labeling initiative, will appear on voter ballots as Proposition 37 for the November 6 elections."

If passed in November, Prop. 37 would make California the first state in the U.S. to require labeling of most foods made with GMOs.   Given the size of California, such a law would become a de-facto national law because many retailers and manufacturers follow the most strict law in every region to make production simpler.  In 50 countries around the world, GMO labeling is already law. The state of Alaska is the only state in America that requires GMO shellfish and fish to be labeled, and it is the only state that has any kind of stipulation on labeling.

According to LabelGMOs.org, the organization responsible for getting the initiative on the ballot, it is time for Californians to stand up for their right to know. According to recent surveys, about 90 percent of Californians are in support of the GMO labeling.

Because over 90 percent of us want our foods labeled. We believe our right to know what we are buying and feeding ourselves and our kids supersedes corporate rights to a nontransparent profit. We are tired of elected officials buckling to corporate pressure over the clear desires of us, their constituents. We are outraged that we don't have the same right that over 40 percent of the world's population has: A clear, transparent market with genetically engineered ingredients disclosed in a simple, easy-to-read way.

Three-quarters of U.S. Senators rejected a federal GMO labeling bill earlier this year. Since then, nearly 20 states have had similar bills turned down in Congress.  All this is in spite of the fact that GMO labeling was one of President Obama's campaign promises.

Most industrial food corporations oppose labeling because of the lack of clear direction from the FDA - the FDA only requires GM food to be labeled if they're found to have a different nutritional value or level of safety. Both of these points are, of course, debatable.

According to Treehugger, its not a question about having a label or not. "It's about giving the American public the tools to make their own decisions without fears that true food safety is being held hostage by a lack of necessary information."

As I pointed out before, California is the key state in which this decision can be made for the whole country due to the sheer amount of food that grows there and also the number of food companies based there. Indeed, it wouldn't be too far off the mark to say that if California gets a GMO labeling law, the rest of the country would soon follow. It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

Image Credit: Daquella manera/CC BY 2.0

Akhila Vijayaraghavan headshot

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also http://www.thegreenden.net

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