By Susanne Posel
Soon, GM food may be labeled for consumers by mandate of the State of California legislators.
Over half a million signatures have been collected by advocates supporting the requirement of labeling of genetically modified foods. Several county registrars in California have received the measure called The Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act . California would be the first state to demand detailed labeling of these foods in such a wide range of processed foods containing GMO.
The proposal is not the first labeling law to be drafted in California.
The proposal states that by 2014, a label, explaining to consumers that the processed food they are purchasing contained ingredients derived from plants whose DNA was altered with genes from other plants, animals, viruses and/or bacteria.
Supporters of the proposal say more states, like Vermont and Connecticut are willing to enforce stringent labeling to educate consumers in their states. The US Congress has also tried unsuccessfully to mandate that GM foods be labeled. The demand for transparency and the fostering of trust with the general public and the food industry is the foundation of these efforts. Voters in California are demanding that their food be made safe. The Mellman Group’s survey contends that Americans believe GM’s are “basically safe” although scientific data proves otherwise.
In America, more than 70% of the foods sold are froth with GM ingredients. One opposing survey states more than half of participants would not buy foods that they knew were made with genetically modified components.
Big agricultural corporations and the processed food industry are opposed to this movement, claiming that such labels will only “confuse the consumer”. They also claim that stricter labeling will raise the cost of food due to packing price hikes.
Tom Hitachk, head of the Coalition Against the Costly Food Labeling Proposition (CACFLP) has been hired by lobbyists representing the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), Monsanto, BASF, Bayer, Dow and Syngenta as well as other major food processing corporations and certain supermarket chains to convince lawmakers with advertising propaganda that this proposal is detrimental to farmers, unnecessary and will contribute to world hunger.
They cite how the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) say that GM foods pose no health threat to the general public and can be used for human consumption. The FDA says GMOs are nutritionally equivilant to conventionally grown crops.
Yet, Suzanne Wuethele, toxicologist for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains that the FDA cannot possibly know that GMOs are safe because they have not conducted studies to prove their assertion. Wuethele said:
We are confronted with the most powerful technology the world has ever known, and it is being rapidly deployed with almost no thought whatsoever to its consequences.The effect of altering the genetic compounds of food is not yet understood by the scientific community. Signs from scientific data point to GMOs being classified as dangerous as these substances do not naturally exist and their presence in the general food supply remains untested.
Consumers have a fundamental right to know what is in their food and make choices, so I think everyone should be working toward this. Our labeling costs do not go through to the consumer.The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) said labeling GMO ingredients in the US forces domestic markets to be more competitive with markets in the European Union, which imposes guidelines on informing consumers about genetically modified food.
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