By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now
Graphic artist Rosemary Pant sent over her take on the California Right to Know campaign last week, and I’m posting a portion of it below.
Ms. Pant described herself as a person who “knew little to nothing” about Prop. 37, the campaign to label genetically modified foods. But after she was assigned to create an infographic for a client, she said: “I am amazed with the information I have found. I will be voting yes on Prop 37 and feel that we need to get the information out to the public.”
We found the middle third of Ms. Pant’s graphic to be the most compelling because it cuts to the heart of the issue, the revolving door between Monsanto, the world’s largest producer of genetically engineered foods and the companion pesticides (RoundUp), and the U.S. government.
With such tight ties between this giant corporation and the U.S. government, it’s no wonder that GM foods have found favorable policy that’s allowed them to virtually overtake the U.S. food system. (See our story for more about how GMOs won approval back in the 1990s.)
Has that complicity compromised our health with the proliferation of plants genetically engineered to resist pesticides? We don’t know for sure, the studies aren’t complete, or worse, they aren’t available to the public because the biotech firms own the patents to the seeds involved.
We, the public, are supposed to trust that Monsanto, among others, and the federal government have looked out for our best interests. They may have, but this paternalistic system is not how democracy works.
So perhaps the worst thing about GM foods is that so much has been obscured from the public.
The Prop. 37 ballot initiative chips away at that. It was started by concerned citizens with the support of organic food producers, who want to wrestle back some food freedom. They want know what’s in our food and in the case of producers, remain free to continue the organic growing techniques that are threatened by “drift” and seed infiltration from genetically modified crops.
That’s the best reason to vote for Prop. 37, food freedom.
Prop. 37 would preserve or really restore consumer choice at the grocery store. If California voters say yes to Prop. 37, genetically modified food will have to carry a label designating it as a genetically modified food or made with genetically modified foods. After California, the rest of the US will likely follow; unless biotech and Big Ag firms decide to stage state by state fights.
Bio-engineering and pesticide companies, led by Monsanto, along with other food producers, reject the label proposition, and have spent about $40 million fighting the initiative.
The No on 37 groups say that the labeling requirement will raise the price of food and open the gate to lawsuits over labels. Though the fact that most other developed nations around the world already have GM labeling tends to put the lie to this argument.
Those supporting Prop. 37 feel confident that labeling will neither raise the price of groceries, nor invite excessive legal action. But they believe it will satisfy the public’s craving to know more.
Ms. Pant’s graphic points this out, citing one poll that showed wide public support for GMO labeling.
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