The Food Movement: California’s Prop 37

Come November 6, in addition to the national election and other state ballot issues, a few million Californians will vote on food. California, long the rebel state that paves the way for the rest of the nation, has Proposition 37 on the menu ballot, which would require that genetically modified (G.M.) foods carry a label.

It seems a simple concept to let people know what they’re eating, but as food author, journalist and activist and Michael Pollan writes in an article titled “Vote for the Dinner Party,” Big Food doesn’t see it that way:

The industry is happy to boast about genetically engineered crops in the elite precincts of the op-ed and business pages — as a technology needed to feed the world, combat climate change, solve Africa’s problems, etc. — but still would rather not mention it to the consumers who actually eat the stuff. Presumably that silence owes to the fact that, to date, genetically modified foods don’t offer the eater any benefits whatsoever — only a potential, as yet undetermined risk. So how irrational would it be, really, to avoid them?

A clever PSA on Youtube, “Right to Know: Vote Yes on Prop 37,” stars numerous celebrities, one of whom points out that if GMO foods were labeled, “You might be looking at labels and making decisions for yourself.” They conclude that you don’t have that right, and if you want that, maybe you should move to Europe, Japan, China , India or other countries where people have the right to know if they’re eating GMOs.

California is the eighth largest economy in the world (approximately the size of Mainland China and larger than Brazil, Canada or Spain). So, as Pollan writes, this may “change the politics of food not just in California but nationally too.”

The Conversation

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