Prop. 37 seeks labeling on modified food
Posted October 2, 2012 at 11:39 pm in News
For nearly two decades, supermarkets have sold genetically engineered food. But many consumers, however, are not aware that the foods they are purchasing are either genetically engineered or modified.
This November, however, a proposition on the state ballot seeks to change that. Proposition 37 would require all genetically modified raw or processed food to be labeled and would prevent any such altered food from being labeled as ânatural.â
The ballot measure does not place a ban on the manufacture or sale of GE food, and it exempts foods that are certified organic, alcoholic, served in restaurants or for immediate consumption or made from animals fed with genetically engineered material.
Opponents of Prop. 37 argue that if the measure imposes extra financial strain on manufacturers, either through relabeling cost or through litigation suits, the extra costs would be passed on to the consumers in the form of increased food prices.
Lauren Pacheco, a senior majoring in communication, said she believes labeling will not make much of a difference in the amount of GE food that is purchased.
âI eat genetically engineered foods all the time, the corn and the chicken and all that, not on purpose though,â Pacheco said. âI think even with packaging, if itâs cheaper people will still buy it.â
According to the California Official Voter Information Guide, 88 percent of corn and 94 percent of soybeans produced in the United States are genetically engineered, as well as much of the countryâs zucchini, canola, cotton, alfalfa, papaya and sugar beet supply.
David Lightsey, a physiologist and consumer advocate with the National Council Against Health Fraud, said the measure reflects uncertainty surrounding genetically modified profucts in the United States.
âAll the other developing countries are relying on the GE technology … we have used these things in Mexico, India, China and Pakistan for some time,â Lightsey said. âItâs much easier to ship a genetically modified seed than pesticides, which are more expensive and much more difficult.â
Feeding a large population is another factor, Lightsey said.
âThe real issue here is can we feed the enormous number of people that weâre facing?â Lightsey said. âOn a campus, people are not going to realize that we have over 7 billion people to feed now. In the U.S. alone, we have roughly 314 million.â
Supporters of Prop. 37 believe that consumers should know the contents of products before purchasing them. âRight to Know,â a campaign backing the initiative, also said that genetically modified foods can cause environmental damage and might have an impact on consumer health.
Callahan Jacobs, a senior majoring in biology and kinesiology, said she tends to be wary of these foods.
âBased on the research theyâve done, [GE food] is definitely something they need to be monitoring,â Jacobs said. âWe need more regulations and limitations on genetically modified food, especially for fast food places.â
Some students said the labeling that Prop. 37 requires could help more people become aware of what they are eating.
âI think they should be labeled so it would turn people away from eating such unhealthy foods,â said David Alvarez, a senior majoring in narrative studies.