One Million More for the Right to Know What We Eat

Ballot Initiative: Label Genetically Engineered Foods or GMOs

A Letter from Andrew Kang Bartlett, Associate for National Hunger Concerns,
Presbyterian Hunger Program

Yes on Prop 37: One Million More for the Right to KnowDear Friends,

With $32 million plus in funds being poured into ads on our TVs, newspapers, and magazines, you may be overwhelmed by GMO label vs. no label hype. But this may be the only note you’ll get from your church! I just spoke with a colleague, Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, who is a senior researcher with the Pesticide Action Network and who has spoken at PC(USA) and other denominational conferences. She presents us with an opportunity to take action by supporting a ballot initiative in California to label GMOs or genetically-modified foods. If passed, this initiative will set a significant precedent and will likely lead to labeling in other states as well.

See Marcia’s post, the first ever long-term study on GE food health effects if you are still on the fence about GMOs, or simply need to know more. This study has strongly linked eating genetically engineered (GE) corn with serious health effects—including mammary tumors, kidney and liver damage. In the study, 50% of males and 70% of females died prematurely compared to 30% and 20% respectively in the control groups. And the effects grew over time, so that by the beginning of the second year of the study, 50-80% of females in all treated groups had developed large tumors versus only 30% of the control group.

And here’s the bigger news story: why is this the first independent, peer-reviewed, long-term health study of its kind on the effects of eating GE foods, despite their presence in our food supply for 15 years? Licensing agreements expressly forbid research unless it has been approved by the patent-holders, and they retain and exercise the right to prevent publication when results are not as desired. Read more…

More than 90% of Americans surveyed say that genetically-modified food (GMOs) and products with GMO ingredients should be labeled—as they are in 50 other countries. The health affects of eating GMOs are still not completely understood. Neither you nor I would knowingly feed ourselves or our children harmful food. But when an estimated 70% of processed food contains GMO ingredients, we might in fact be doing just that. This is one reason my family buys as much organic food as possible, since it is not allowed to contain GMOs. ‘Natural’ foods, by the way, can and often do contain GMO ingredients.

Perhaps worse than the possible health effects of eating GMO foods are the known increases in pesticides use that GM crops have instigated on many farms across the United States.

The GMO policy of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), iterated in the 2006 General Assembly’s Just Globalization, commits the church to “call upon governments, including our own, to enforce restraints on commercial activity in genetically modified foods until these crops are certified as safe by appropriate international, science-based organizations, and in the United States, to include such ‘GM’ food products under the Food and Drug Administration’s jurisdiction for testing and approval.”

Now for the action! California voters will decide in November whether their food should be labeled when it contains GMOs. There, giant pesticide and big food companies have donated more than $32 million to defeat Yes on 37 to label GMOs. Earlier this spring, the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA), of which Monsanto is a leading partner, declared that defeating Prop 37 was its single highest priority for 2012. These same entities claim that GMOs are perfectly safe, so why do you think they would be fighting this so hard?

Transparency seems to be a reasonable request, right?

Given the corporate opposition to this ballot initiative, the pro-labeling folks are truly in a David versus Goliath struggle. So, I asked Marcia what they need most right now with the vote just several weeks away. How can we help? Marcia said they need: donations so they can do a TV ad and other ads; letters to the editor from regular people like you; and—ultimately—for people to get out and vote on November 6.

Know too that anything you can do to help get this labeling law passed will have a ripple effect on the rest of the country! So feel empowered with our hope and deep gratitude!

Spread the Good News and let’s seize a new day of truth in labeling. People have a right to know!

Read more about the Just Label It Campaign.

Learn more and support California’s Proposition 37: Right to Know.

Read Marcia Ishii-Eiteman’s “First Ever Long-Term Study on GE Food Health Effects

Best Blessings,

P.S. Celebrate the Food Sovereignty Prize Winners either live or via live stream! The 2012 Food Sovereignty Prize Ceremony happens on October 10. Those of you in NYC should attend, but anyone can participate by watching the live stream of the event. The Food Sovereignty Prize spotlights grassroots activists working for a more democratic food system. Learn about the winner, the Korean Women’s Peasants Association and the three other honorees—one of which is the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

andrew kang bartlett
Andrew Kang Bartlett is the Associate for National Hunger Concerns through the Presbyterian Hunger Program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He helped develop the Sweat-Free T program to educate Presbyterians about sweatshops and worker rights, and to create a demand for SweatFree products. Andrew has researched and worked on human rights, race relations, community organizing, and social and economic justice in San Francisco, Central America, Japan, Korea, and Louisville.
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