Surely you’ve been hearing the buzz about GMOs by now. As the vote in California is just around the corner, many more groups are talking about this controversial topic. In case you aren’t sure what all the talk is about, the California ballot next month will ask voters to pass a law to require labeling of GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms. If you haven’t decided where you stand about this subject, here are 7 facts about GMOs we hope will persuade you to vote Yes on 37.
1. A GMO is a Food with Altered DNA. Before we get too caught up in the details, let’s start at the beginning and define what a GMO is. GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. Much of our food supply is comprised of these organisms. A genetically modified food is a plant or meat that has had its DNA altered in a lab. Genes from other plants or organisms have been artificially altered to create unnatural compounds in food. This is all done in order to yield larger crops, allow the crop to resist insects, protect against viruses, and tolerate herbicides. This is all done in hopes to create bigger profits and lower costs to consumers.
2. The US is a Global Leader in GMO Crops. According to USA Today, the US leads the world in GMO crop planting. We planted 170 million acres in 2012. That yielded 95% of the country’s sugar beets, 94% of the soybeans, 90% of the cotton, and 88% of the feed corn.
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It’s natural to assume the good in someone, or something. In this case, a brand. Brands like Kashi, Naked, Alexia, Larabar, and Silk have spent millions in marketing and packaging so that we’re comfortable with their do-gooder, earth-friendly, clean and organic food brand personas. These brands are the nemesis of classic grocery store junk. But they just may be the nemesis of conscious eaters everywhere, too, according to a new infographic produced by Cornucopia.org.
The vote in California next month on Prop 37, which would require labeling of GMO and GE food products, is as hot as the presidential election. That vote there, while only immediately effecting California, has the potential to create a new labeling standard across the country. As you can imagine, a GMO labeling law would require transparency where these brands have been able to slip under the radar previously. As well, where companies are the most concerned, it will cost them quite a bit of money to update labeling.
Right there in red and green, you can see which previously assumed supporters of natural, organic, clean foods are just a front for more secrecy behind the label. Dean Foods, parent of Horizon and Silk, has spent a quarter-million dollars to prevent labeling GMOs. Coca-Cola, with their Honest Tea and Odwalla brands, has spent 1.1 million dollars. Something about that doesn’t feel so honest.
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There are several big changes proposed for this November’s ballot. Our country could see a new president elected, the government could feel a major party shift, and health care reform may be turned on its head. One issue that is so important to many of us is the labeling of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). This issue hasn’t gotten as much national press as other hard-hitters, but it has made its way onto California’s ballot. In November, Californians will have the chance to change history and promote national change for our food, and ultimately our health. Proposition 37, calling for the labeling of all GMO foods, will be in the hands of the voters this fall.
This issue earned a space on the ballot after the CA Right to Know Campaign submitted nearly a million signatures declaring a desire for food labeling. Currently there is no way to know if the food you are purchasing is a GMO because the law in this country does not require it.
Stacey Malkan is the Media Director for the California Right to Know 2012 ballot initiative. She explained to us how the US is not keeping with the international trend of food labeling. “More than 40 other countries already require labeling of genetically engineered food so this is not anything out of the ordinary and is not rocket science — it’s about our fundamental right to know.”
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Californians seem to be doing everything right these days. Achieving the tall and slender beach-body look, eating less than kids in other states, and now likely voting to enforce a new law that would require labeling of genetically engineered food. Is there anything they aren’t doing right? Well, maybe.
If approved, California would be the first state in the nation to require GMO labeling. And according to a recent poll by California Right to Know, it’s likely to happen as nine out of 10 California voters want the labeling to be enforced.
However, new research on the effectiveness of food labeling suggests it may not be the one-cure-fix-all solution Californians, and other health-conscious Americans, are looking for. This is because a labeling initiative may end up making it harder for consumers to know what’s in their food, since it makes the definition of ‘natural’ food very unclear.
When we think of the word natural when it relates to food, we think organic, healthy, and no artificial preservatives, flavorings or ingredients. But apparently the term natural is becoming much harder to define, especially since the federal government has refused to make the term any clearer, allowing food companies to continue labeling their food as ‘natural’ when it may very well not be.
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Is it possible that the West-coast population is eating less than us East-coasters and Midwesterners? According to a new study, that may be the case; especially when it comes to California teens.
The new study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found that California teens are eating less at school. And although the margin may be small – about 158 calories – nutrition experts say this could make a big difference in the long run, especially since they also seem to be eating less added sugar and fat than students from others states.
The 14 other states included in the study reportedly have less strict nutrition standards, which may potentially be the reason their students are consuming more calories during the school day. But what isn’t clear is why California students also seem to be eating fewer calories at night when they arrive home from school.
Authors of the study say California’s nutrition laws are what’s likely contributing to the surprising results, since the state limits the amount of unhealthy snack foods and sodas schools can sell to students – including the content of vending machines.
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