A 2012 California Ballot Initiative that would require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods and food ingredients is gaining momentum. And if the initiative is passed by California voters, it is likely to bring the genetically engineered food industry in the U.S. to an end.
California proponents of the initiative hope to build on the success of similar efforts in Colorado. In November 2011, 250 Boulder County residents met at a public meeting to discuss the planting of genetically modified crops on county-owned land. That public meeting, combined with a recommendation from the county’s Food and Agriculture Policy Council, was enough to lead county officials to vote to phase out of genetically engineered crops on publicly held land.
The Boulder area had seen the debate over genetically engineered foods since 2009, when local farmers announced plans to plant genetically engineered sugar beets. Now public resistance has led to the current ban.
John Nibarger, a Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee member said: “There’s the voters’ side of this, and there’s the farmers’ side of this … I think we heard rather strongly … (that a lot of voters) don’t want to see GM crops.”
The related health effects of eating genetically engineered foods are mostly unknown, but current research suggests they may play a role in birth defects, cancer, organ disruption, lung damage, allergies, and DNA damage.
Genetically engineered soybeans, corn, canola, and sugar beets have found their way into nearly 80 percent of U.S. processed grocery store items. That means, if you live in the Unites States, you are likely to have been exposed to genetically engineered food products on a regular basis.
Hungary recently banned all such crops due to emerging problems. The problem was so serious they destroyed 1,000 acres of corn crops found to be mistakenly grown with GM seeds. Other European nations that have allowed the crops for a number of years are considering similar drastic action.
There are a number of reasons for such concern. Genetically engineered crops cannot be contained and ultimately contaminate the environment. A pressing concern is “superweeds”, the result of the misuse of Roundup herbicide on genetically engineered Roundup Ready crops.
A more long range concern is that of unknown threats to human health. Recent research shows toxins from genetically engineered crops are now showing up in human blood. Almost all genetically engineered crops are made with genes to resist a potent herbicide called glyphosate.
Glyphosate is actually much more dangerous than first realized and the U.S. is spreading enormous amounts of it every year. The consequences of this exploitation will have overwhelmingly devastating consequences and the longer we wait to remove this toxin the worse it will be.
The good news is that an increasing number of people have educated themselves on the dangers of genetically engineered crops and are sounding the warning. Something the U.S. government needs to learn from and emulate.