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GMO Labeling Campaign

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Faces of the fight for food labeling

Across California, people from a variety of backgrounds — and for a variety of reasons — showed incredible commitment to Prop 37, the ballot initiative for labeling GE food. While the measure was narrowly defeated, the movement grew stronger and the issue was put back on the national agenda.

Here, we pause to reflect on the dedication and hard work of just a few of those involved in this momentous fight.

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Prop 37 defeated, but the movement is strong

What a ride! While many of us found good news in presidential, federal and local races — including things like funding for California schools — the loss of Prop 37 was especially disappointing. No doubt the next few days will be filled with reflection about what we have done and where we are headed.

Here are a few thoughts to put in the mix:

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Farmers speak out for GE labeling

Speaking at farmers' markets Wednesday in honor of international Food Week, California farmers — conventional and organic alike — declared their support for labeling genetically engineered food.

Challenging a series of misleading advertisements that claim otherwise, this new coalition, Farmers for Truth in Labeling, is making it explicity clear that they support Proposition 37 and the honest conversations with consumers it will create.

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GE labeling: The world wants it

What do over 60 countries in the world, representing over half the world’s population — including member nations of the European Union, Russia, China, Brazil, Australia, Turkey, Saudia Arabia, Indonesia and Japan — have in common? A national requirement for mandatory GE food labeling.

And the global movement continues to grow, with India’s GE labeling laws coming into full force in 2013. Last week, I heard more good news: one of our partners in South Africa, the African Centre for Biosafety, reports that GE labeling laws there are getting stronger.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman
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Biggest opponents of labeling GE food? Pesticide corporations.

According to filings released by the California Secretary of State last week, the world’s six largest pesticide corporations are now the six largest funders of opposition to Proposition 37.

Collectively the "Big 6"  have contributed more than $20 million to oppose the measure that would label genetically engineered food, including an intensive advertising campaign over the past two weeks.

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GE’s dirty little secret

As a scientist at Pesticide Action Network, I am frequently asked these days to explain what genetically engineered (GE) crops have to do with pesticides. When I answer that GE crops both contain and drive up pesticide use, I am often met with earnest incredulity. We seem to need to believe that GE technology is the best thing since sliced bread.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman
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Washington state takes on GE labeling

In news out earlier this week, food and farming leaders from the Evergreen State are taking up the issue of labeling genetically engineered foods on the state’s ballot. Despite the fact that federal and state governments have largely either ignored or assiduously avoided the issue, Washington joins California in taking the matter directly to the voters.

This should be no surprise, as ballot initiatives have proven the last resort when other policy arenas fail to take up or take action on public issues.

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First ever long-term study on GE food health effects

Very big news exploding across the papers yesterday. Eating genetically engineered (GE) corn has been strongly linked to serious health effects — including mammary tumors, kidney and liver damage. A team of European scientists yesterday released the first independent long-term animal feeding study of its kind on the health effects of eating GE foods in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology. 

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman

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