All eyes are on California! The California Right to Know Initiative for GMO labeling has been recently been certified and will be on the California ballot in November. This historic initiative would be the first law in the United States requiring labeling of a wide range of genetically engineered foods. It’s about the fundamental right to make informed choices about the food we eat and feed our families.
The initiative is simple. It simply requires labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) – which are plants or meats that have had their DNA artificially altered by genes from other plants, animals, viruses, or bacteria, in order to produce foreign compounds in that food. This type of genetic alteration occurs in a laboratory and is not found in nature.
Polls show nearly unanimous support across the political spectrum for labeling of genetically engineered foods. Nine out of ten voters in the U.S. and in California back labeling, according to recent polls (see Mellman 2012, Reuters 2010, Zogby 2012). An April poll by San Francisco TV station KCBS found 91% backed labeling.
The California Right to Know initiative is backed by a broad array of consumer, health and environmental groups, businesses and farmers. Major endorsers include Public Citizen, Sierra Club, American Public Health Association, United Farm Workers, California Certified Organic Farmers, Organic Consumers Association, Consumer Federation of America, Nature’s Path, Lundberg Family Farms, Organic Valley, Dr. Bronner’s, Eden Foods, Mercola.com, Center for Food Safety, Food Democracy Now! and the California State Grange. The United States stands out as one of the few developed nations that does not provide consumers with simple labels to inform them if their food has been genetically engineered. More than 40 other countries — including all of Europe, Japan and even China — already label genetically engineered food. Californians deserve to be able to make informed choices too.
The California Right to Know initiative is widely regarded as the best chance to achieve GMO labeling in the United States, and the campaign has generated significant national interest in the growing movement for transparency in our food system, as reported in a recent front-page New York Times story.
In March, more than one million people submitted comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on a petition for mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods, more than any other petition in FDA history. Twenty states have tried to legislate GMO labeling, but none have succeeded due to intense opposition from corporate special interests.