On Tuesday, 971,126 signatures were delivered to county registrars throughout California in support of a ballot initiative to require labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods.
Ninety-three percent of Americans say they want to know when they are eating GE food. With up to 80% of the non-organic products on our shelves containing GE ingredients, and little-to-no studies on their long term health effects, people across the country are concerned. And people in California are demanding the right to know.
With a spot on the ballot now virtually secured, Californians will have the opportunity in November to demand legislation requiring that foods containing genetically engineered ingredients bear a label indicating as much.
Pesticide Action Network (PAN) strongly supports the public’s right to know what is in our food, and endorses The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.
As PAN Senior Scientists Marcia Ishii-Eiteman notes:
Much of the rest of the world — including Japan, Australia, the European Union and China — already requires genetically engineered foods to be clearly labeled. But in the U.S., pesticide and biotech companies like Monsanto continue to enjoy unfettered and unlabeled access to the market, and consumers are left largely in the dark.
Major pesticide and biotech companies are strongly opposed to providing this information. A handful of corporations (Monsanto, Dow, BASF, Bayer, Syngenta and DuPont, also known as the Big 6) dominate the world’s seed, pesticide and biotech markets.
These corporations have actively suppressed independent science seeking to establish the safety or efficacy of their products through a combination of direct intimidation of scientists and farmers, restrictive control over who can examine their products, and even how much shelf space must be devoted to their products versus their competitors’.
These suppression tactics have been so effective that 26 scientists were compelled to write an anonymous letter to EPA decrying both our dearth of knowledge about the safety or efficacy of GE seeds, and the “chilling effect” on free inquiry.
After 15 years of commercialization and millions of dollars in publicly funded research, the agricultural biotech industry has yet to deliver on its promises. Rather than reducing the need for hazardous pesticides, herbicide-resistant seeds have driven a massive increase in herbicide use that has been linked to significant environmental and public health concerns.
"We have a right to know what we’re eating," concludes Ishii-Eiteman. "The California Right to Know Act takes an important step towards fulfilling that right."