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California's Vote on Prop 37 Will Send a Message to the FDA: Can We Trust Our Food System?

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page and our California News page.

Consumers have a right to know what's in their food. And in much of the world, they do, because of government labeling laws. For example, China, Russia, and India are among the 50-odd nations that require labeling of genetically modified foods, or GMOs. Here in America, however, we can't get information on GMO foods. That's because chemical companies and food manufacturers have a stranglehold on the system of government oversight that is supposed to ensure the safety of our food supply.

And it's consumers who are stuck paying the price for this broken system.

Foodborne illnesses sicken millions of Americans each year. Intensive use of antibiotics in the livestock sector breeds resistant superbugs that now threaten people. Millions of pounds of toxic pesticides continue to be released into our environment, threatening farmworkers, farmers and our natural resources. The hormone-disrupting chemical BPA is still used in food packaging, despite reams of scientific data indicating cause for concern. Rampant overuse of chemical fertilizers has created a 6,800 square mile dead zone in the Gulf, now utterly devoid of life.

And so public trust in our food system, and on the government mechanisms that are supposed to ensure its safety, is rightfully crumbling.

But in a couple of weeks, California voters will have an opportunity to send a powerful message to food manufacturers--and to Washington--about the need for greater transparency in our food system. Proposition 37, The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, will require the labeling of GMO foods and food ingredients.

NRDC is not opposed to the use of GMOs. Rather, we support increased transparency in our food supply. Advocates of the proposition are just asking for information. A label. There's no ban. Regardless of the potential costs or benefits of GMOs, consumers have the right to make informed decisions about the food they purchase. As Bill Maher quipped on his show Real Time, "We just want what Russia and China have. We just want to be as open as Russia and China."  


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