Fight over Labeling of GM Food Fires Up

Aug 16, 2012 04:18 AM EDT | By Sharon Robinson

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The fight between 'California Right to Know', led by health advocates, and 'No on 37', led by Monsanto and its ilk, is heating up. (Photo :

The labeling of GM food will be up for ballot in November in the state of California, under the name of Proposition 37, or Prop 37. The 'California Right to Know' movement has been lobbying for the labeling of GM food, and is supported by most consumers in California, organic farmers and health advocates.

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Agribusinesses and big food corps have also been active. They have been busy lobbying against the labeling of GM food. According to reports, around $10 million have been contributed by the food businesses, collectively, towards the 'No on 37' movement.

Genetically Modified food has been a controversy since its introduction into the food supply back in the 90s. Genetic modification usually involves making the food crops resistant to insects, pests and certain pesticides, by adding genetic material from another plant, or bacteria.

Monsanto, which donated $4.2 million this week towards the 'No on 37' movement, is the most infamous example of GM food company with its roundup ready soy, resistant to a pesticide.

GM foods have not been included in labeling regime due to aggressive lobbying by the food companies, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has maintained that since GM food is not unhealthy, it does not require labeling.

But, consumers have not been convinced. Many studies have cited that GM food increases the risk of food allergies.

Food corps fear that their sales would drop if GM food were to be labelled. As a result, they have launched negative advertising. They have been trying to convince the voters that their shopping bills would surge if the GM foods are labelled. They are convinced that since this tactic worked when the tobacco industry used it against a cancer campaign, it would work in this case too.

Over 90 percent of Californians have indicated that they want their food labels to tell them whether they are genetically modified or not. Come November, the ballot will decide if GM food should be labelled or not. If Prop 37 is won, then other states may soon see a similar movement.



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