GUEST OPINION: Yes on Prop. 37
Published: Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 5, 2012 at 5:37 p.m.
This November, we have a chance to make history by becoming the first state in the nation to vote for the right to know what's in our food.
Proposition 37 would label foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients. 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. Despite the lack of independent safety studies showing them to be safe, GMOs have become prevalent in the American food supply without our knowledge or consent.
By providing a simple label, Proposition 37 will finally give consumers the well-deserved right to know what's in the food we eat and feed our families.
As a local farmer, I want to know. My livelihood depends on standing behind what I grow and guaranteeing customers that my food doesn't contain anything created in a lab.
That promise is becoming increasingly harder to make. Across the country, farmers are experiencing the devastating effects of contamination of their natural and organic corps through GMO cross-pollination carried through the wind or by birds and insects. There has also been a dramatic increase in the use of pesticides to kill super bugs and super weeds that have arisen as a result of crops designed to resist them. And farmers who paid for expensive seeds that don't reproduce are getting yields no larger than they would have had using natural crops.
Adding insult to injury, in order to replant their crops at all, farmers are then forced to re-purchase patented seeds from Monsanto — the same multinational corporate giant that is the source of so many of their problems.
Struggling farmers should not be made dependent on the very pesticide companies that are destroying their businesses.
These are the same companies that have spent $34.5 million to defeat Proposition 37.
The overwhelming majority of people in California and across the United States want to know if their food contains GMOs. More than 1 million Americans have asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to label these foods so we can make informed choices about what we want to eat — like consumers in Europe, Japan, China, Russia and more than 40 other countries.
Though there are serious questions about the health impacts of genetically engineered foods, the FDA doesn't require independent safety studies. A former Monsanto attorney wrote the FDA policy that disregards the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association recommendations that GMOs should undergo mandatory pre-market safety testing.
Although they have been on the market for nearly two decades, the first long-term, peer-reviewed health study on GMO corn was just released. It linked Monsanto's corn to serious health effects such as mammary tumors and kidney and liver problems. This joins a growing body of science that is raising concerns about the safety of these foods.
But the FDA wants us to trust the promises of safety made by Monsanto, Dow and DuPont — the same companies that told us DDT and Agent Orange were safe.
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.
My passion is providing food to the residents of Lake County. I don't want to expose them to potential dangers. I want my customers to trust my practices and believe what I tell them about the food I'm selling so they can make informed purchasing decisions.
Support the free market, support farmers, and support the right to know. Please vote yes on 37.
]Thurston Williams is a farmer living in Lakeport.
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