Supporters of mandatory labeling of all genetically modified foods in California rejoiced this past week before announcing to the world that they had collected far more signatures than necessary for the issue to appear on the Nov. 6 ballot in the state.
Genetically modified foods are banned in several countries throughout the world and at least labeled in many of them, but they continue to be introduced in the United States to the dismay of health advocates across the country.
Currently, the vast majority of corn, soy, canola, and cottonseed crops sold in the United States in packaged foods are genetically modified despite a lack of “official” independent testing for possible health effects.
According to 19 different outside studies, however, GMO crops cause organ disruption/damage. Lower birth weights of animals, infertility, and more have also been demonstrated.
Perhaps the most troublesome aspect of GMO crops for many activists is that they cross-contaminate other non-GMO crops, which has the potential to practically ruin the organic and non-GMO food industries due to pollen drift.
The California activists are well aware of these problems, and that’s why the grassroots push became so large. Instead of relying on firms to collect signatures, it was reported that concerned farmers, mothers, health professionals and more were on the ground leading the charge this time around. The Right to Know organization only reported raising just over $27k compared to the usual $2-3 million required for signature drives this large.
A March 2012 Gallup poll found that 9 out of 10 people want to see labeling laws enacted, and the Califrornia initiative raised nearly a million signatures in support of the ballot vote on GMOs.
Despite the overwhelming numbers, the measure is far from a slam dunk.
Opposition is likely to be fierce, especially with the over-reliance on GMO crops in packaged foods; some estimates say that about 70% already contain them with corn and soy heavily subsidized and serving as the base for many of these foods.
In Vermont, a recent ballot initiative has mostly stalled out against the public’s wishes with many suspecting a threat of a lawsuit by biotech giant Monsanto as part of the problem.
There’s also the possibility of the issue ending up before the U.S. Supreme Court where the labeling could face a serious fight or potentially be struck down.
And because so many powerful interests have spent so much money strong-arming the crops through in other countries and the U.S. government is crawling with ex-Monsanto execs (such as Sec. of Agriculture Tom Vilsack).
Also consider what happened in Michigan where supporters of a measure to vote on unconstitutional emergency managers appointees was shot down due to a “font size” issue (not making that up) despite heavy support.
Still, supporters are optimistic that democracy will prevail in this case and the peoples’ wishes will be granted. Millions of people see labeling as an absolute minimum in regards to the GMO threat especially considering that France for example recently banned GMO corn. Cross-contamination hurts farmers, raises major health and environmental questions (see this candid documentary) and hurts the U.S.’ exports in many ways.
That being said, the optimism has to be met with Herculean efforts of support and vigilance by the anti-GMO movement because success on this issue just might be the worst nightmare of many of the suits in Washington who have seen untold riches sprout from the proliferation of these dangerous crops at the expense of everyone else.
Nicholas Tomasi is an AP Award winning writer from Michigan. He has written health books for the Amazon Kindle including one on how to naturally eliminate the causes of acne without harsh drugs.