San Clemente’s villagers are a wonderful mix of unique and opinionated individuals. I was reminded of this as I took to our local gathering places and events to promote the Label GMO ballot initiative. And, because of their enthusiastic help, it will appear on our November ballots as Proposition 37, California’s Right to Know.
Unfortunately, there are some who still don’t know what GMO means and that many of the foods we eat have been manipulated in ways that would not occur in nature.
GMO is the acronym for Genetically Modified Organisms – organisms developed through genetic engineering. The process involves the forcing of specific DNA slices from one or more non-plant organisms into a plant’s DNA. The intended uses for this technology vary, and are incalculable. Crops may be tailored to tolerate specific herbicides or pesticides, weather or soil conditions, long voyages, have better visual appeal, and perhaps even improved flavor or nutrition? And as in science fiction, scientists’ imaginations are the only limit to the possibilities for this technology. And because these man-made life forms can be patented, the potential for profit is big.
But at what cost to you and me?
Unbeknownst to many, GMO foods are already a part of our food supply. In the mid-1990s, when it became possible to patent living organisms, GMO crops such as corn, soy, canola oil, sugar and others began to quietly find their way into many of the processed foods now lining our grocery store shelves. More and more fresh produce is, too. Apparently, we’ve been eating GMOs for sometime now.
That Proposition 37 faces any opposition is what is most troubling to me about this issue. That opposition is no surprise, however, given that the patent holders and/or producers have such an enormous monetary stake in the outcome. With that money, they also wield enormous lobbying power. They are the large chemical companies that now produce most of the world’s crop seeds. They also produce the pesticides and herbicides that, by contract, must be used on the fields – toxins these designer crops seem to require in ever increasing quantities and toxicities.
We all eat! What we eat can vary by where we live, our culture, the seasons, or personal preferences – the choice is ours, right? Now, imagine someone taking away your choices without telling you, and by omission of relevant information, telling you that you don’t need to know what you are eating!
“Trust us – it won’t hurt you – our studies show these mutations are not harmful,” is the message I hear not only from these powerful corporations but also from the FDA.
The fact that others have decided I don’t need to know what I put in my body is deeply disturbing. Choosing to avoid eating GMO foods, which I believe is everyone’s right, requires that they be labeled. Let the market for these products determine their success or failure. Leave us in the dark, and what choice do we have?
There seems to be no “proof” that GMOs are harmful to man or beast. Sadly, the reason unbiased scientific studies can probably never be definitive on the subject is because GMOs were introduced into our food supply without our knowledge, fanfare, labels, or sufficient unbiased studies. We’ve all probably eaten them, and we are now forced into being the unsuspecting guinea pigs in this frightening experiment.
With plant diversity so vital to the health of our food supply, I’m not so sure I want scientists taking on the role of designer. Nature uses many means to spread DNA, and GMO crops are not grown inside bubbles. That combination leaves farmers of natural and organic foods no protection from the spread of GMOs and the ultimate loss of variety in the foods we eat.
My gut is telling me to spread the word. Please educate yourself and make an informed choice – don’t believe everything you hear or even what you are reading right now – I’m not an expert on the subject. Whatever you do, please give Californians the ability to choose. It’s our Right to Know. Vote Yes on Proposition 37!