In the early 1900s, when the Southern Pacific Railroad had a lock on California's government and bribery was an accepted method of doing businesses in Sacramento, a group of democratic champions succeeded in bringing the initiative process to our state. Thanks to their work, California voters can use what the state constitution calls "the power inherent in the people" to vote for changes that the people want but the government is unwilling to make.
Proposition 37 is exactly the type of reform these champions of democracy fought so hard for.
Proposition 37 would require simple labeling of genetically engineered foods. Also called GMOs, these are plants or animals that have had their DNA artificially altered by genes from other species in ways that can't occur in nature. Over the past 20 years, GMOs have become prevalent in the American food supply in everything from kids' cereal, to corn chips, to soy milk without our knowledge or consent.
The right to know and choose what we're eating is a basic right and fundamental American value. Yet even though 90 percent of Americans in poll after poll say they want GMO labeling, we haven't been able to get labeling because of the enormous political influence of Monsanto and the pesticide companies.
This spring, more than a million Americans petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for mandatory GMO labeling, and 19 states have tried to pass labeling laws but we can't get labeling because the special interests have too much power over the system.
It's time for the people to decide. That's why, this spring, I joined a thousand other volunteers across the state many of them moms like me who want to know what's in the food we're feeding our families in gathering signatures to get the California Right to Know initiative on the ballot.
That's why I'm working to pass Proposition 37 along with more than 2,000 endorsing organizations and millions of other parents and consumer advocates across California who want to know if our food is genetically engineered.
Like many other moms, I've looked into the research on GMOs and I'm concerned about the environmental problems including increased pesticide use, biodiversity loss and harm to wildlife as well as the possible human health risks associated with genetic engineering. Numerous peer-reviewed studies link GMOs to allergies and other health problems. Just two weeks ago, the first long-term health study linked GMO corn to serious health problems such as mammary tumors and organ damage.
Obviously, more studies are needed. But the FDA does not require safety studies, despite the consensus of the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association that GMOs should undergo mandatory pre-market safety testing. Why doesn't the U.S. government require safety studies? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the FDA policy was written by a former Monsanto lawyer.
As I said, it's time for the people to decide. Proposition 37 is a true people's movement for our democratic principles and our right to know what's in our food.
Not surprisingly, the world's largest pesticide and junk-food companies are spending $34 million on a relentless PR campaign trying to convince California voters and opinion leaders that GMO labeling would be too scary or expensive.
When you hear these scare stories, remember: $34 million can buy a lot of confusion it can buy reports, "expert opinions," university professors and advertising space but it can't buy facts.
Proposition 37 is a simple, straightforward labeling law. According to independent legal and economic analysts, Proposition 37 won't raise costs, and it won't invite frivolous lawsuits. Companies change their labels all the time, most of them label accurately according to the law, and they do not pass these costs on to consumers.
Proposition 37 provides far greater certainty for businesses than other California consumer disclosure laws, it is easy to comply with, and there are no incentives for lawyers to sue. So all the distracting noise about lawsuits is just that: distracting noise from corporations that want to keep us in the dark about our food. Just as they label for calories and allergy information, these companies will label for genetically engineered ingredients as they already do in 50 other countries.
The people of California deserve to have the same right to know what's in our food. Proposition 37 is a historic opportunity to bring fairness to our food system and restore our basic democratic rights. Vote yes on 37!